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July 10th, 2008
The Hidden Stuff


This month I’m doing a cross contest with fellow Aphrodisia author Elizabeth Amber, who writes the Lords of Satyr series—sexy historical paranormal.

Check the contest page at my site for a chance to win a copy of Elizabeth’s latest book, LYON, THE LORDS OF SATYR. For a chance to win my latest, BLACK SILK, check out Elizabeth’s newsletter group

I’m editing my first Bantam/Dell book, THE CLUB, right now, which has been making me think about the things we take out of stories, or “Outtakes”.

Every writer has them. Some are even brave enough to post them on their websites. On her site, author Kelley St. John has a page called The Cutting Room floor, where she has posted deleted scenes and extra material. I love the idea—I love to see all the “behind the scenes” process that goes into creating a book. I also love to watch the deleted scenes on DVD—I find it really helps me think about storytelling to try to understand why the scene was removed, and how the movie is stronger because of it.

When I wrote the synopsis for SIN, I thought that it would be a great idea to have my artist heroine Venetia draw a portrait of Marcus, the hero. And so I wrote the scene. But through later drafts I realized the scene didn’t advance the plot, and even though I loved the idea and the scene made me smile, I had to let it go.

It’s always tough to make that decision to cut paragraphs or even an entire scene. I can never force myself to do that right after the first draft. It’s usually when I reach the third draft that I am cold-hearted enough to slash where needed!

Here’s a peek at a scene that didn’t make it into the final, published version of SIN. But I loved the scene, so if you’ve read BLACK SILK, some of this may seem familiar…

Fully clothed and he’d never felt more naked in his life. Marcus shifted his hip against his desk. What was she staring at? Why had he struck this pose where he was gazing off into the distance at not at her?

What part of him was she looking at now?

His shoulders? His chest? His thighs? Or worse, was she painting his groin, which of course at some point she would have to do. He couldn’t ask her to leave a blank unpainted hole where his hips and crotch should be, but his erection was tenting his breeches. Thankfully he’d worn black, so the bulge wouldn’t be so blasted obvious, but if he stood here knowing she was scrutinizing his family jewels to record them for posterity, he might just ravish her on the spot.
Hell and perdition, all he’d done was kiss the woman and now he couldn’t put her from his mind. He’d lost a thousand bloody pounds at the tables today.

How many women had he kissed? How many women had he made love to? He couldn’t remember the last, but he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about Venetia Hamilton.
Expecting an admonishment, he turned his head just a bit and glanced at her.

She wasn’t looking at him. Good lord, she was sucking on the end of her paintbrush. Her soft red lips pursued around the painted wood shaft and she studied her picture with a frown. Drenched in candlelight, her hair was a mass of flame. She was adorable as her amber brows drew together in concentration.

“No, indeed, that shoulder is not broad enough,” she muttered in a breathy voice. Speaking to herself, she had a soft, kittenish purr. “Definitely his shoulders are broader…straighter…hips lean and narrow…decidedly trim and I haven’t quite caught the lovely line where they…ooh.”

The soft little sigh at the end was almost his undoing. Blast, he should have posed behind his desk. Was it too late to pull a chair in front?

He was as hard as a pistol and she must be able to see it. He knew she was studying his hips. Which meant she would be working around to the front. Was she assessing him for length and girth? Did he make a good showing compared to her fantasies?

“Could we take a break?” His voice broke the stillness like a cannonball exploding.

She pulled her brush from between her lips and he fancied he saw the tip glistening. The tip of her tongue dabbed the very end, thoughtfully. He gripped the bullnose edge of his desk, tight enough to pop a seam of his gloves.

“You’ve not been posing for more than half and hour, my lord.”

“I’m stiff—” God, had he just said that?

“But it will take weeks to complete the work if we stop every time you are…stiff.”

For readers and writers, do you enjoy the “Behind the Scenes” sections where authors reveal the secrets behind the book?