These are all great thoughts that Rachel has inserted, and going through them has made me think through all my motivations, and how I draw out the scene. I kept a lot of her insertions, or changed others because of her take on the scene. Occasionally, I opted not to make changes because I liked the flow of the story better my way, but I definitely considered her thought. Because I’m a suspense writer, I like having actions very tight, and more and more I’m going away from the physical + emotional response, and more into a metaphorical or simple action that betrays their emotions. But it’s a matter of taste and voice. A great editing partnership works when both parties are working together to strengthen a scene. Awesome!
My comments to RH’s comments are highlighted in yellow. The edited text is in blue.
“Just once, I’d like to take the Oscar walk down Hollywood Boulevard in my jeans, a blue devil’s tee-shirt, and a pair of flipflops.”
MacKenzie Grace pulled her wrap tight around her shoulders, even as the February chill found the liberal gaps in her dress and raised gooseflesh. A thousand lights blinked down at her from the Kodak Theater, and around her, limousines honked and maneuvered to the end of the red carpet. Exhaust mixed with the fragrances of a thousand starlets and the earthy smell from the palm trees lined up like sentries along Hollywood Boulevard. “Hurry up, Tony.”
Okay, I like your comments – but I’m going to start it in her pov, making a statement about her life: (Which is how I really like to start a book. =) And, since we’ll add dialogue below, I like establishing her identity here before she starts talking.
Just once, MacKenzie Grace, would like to take the Oscar walk down Hollywood Boulevard in a pair of holy jeans, a blue devil’s tee-shirt, and a pair of flipflops.
She pulled the pulled her wrap tight around her shoulders, even as the February chill found the liberal gaps in her dress and raised gooseflesh. A thousand lights blinked down at her from the Kodak Theater, and exhaust mixed with the earthy smell from the palm trees lined up like sentries along Hollywood Boulevard watching the parade of limousine maneuvering to the end of the red carpet. She looked for her driver in the mass of shiny vehicles. Hurry up, Tony.
Love the shoe idea!
Sure, she liked her silver Christian Louboutin slingbacks, and the deep purple satin gown picked by her stylist from some new Australian designer, but MacKenzie could do without the ten pound emerald earrings pulling at her ears, and especially the fact that every flash, every pop of light, meant that some gossip rag had fresh ammunition to litter her shame across the newsstands of America.
No, not her shame. After all, she’d been half-way across the world, filming in the back alleys and dregs of Bangkok, trying to expose the underbelly of human trafficking. While her husband – no, make that ex-husband as if two weeks ago — exposed his heart to the leading lady in his, yes, Oscar-nominated film.
!A – what was her name, Twila? —shoved MacKenzie just barely refrained from shoving her away. No, smile. Smile.
MacKenzie should be the one earning an Oscar tonight for magnanimous smile
, especially when the camera panned her direction and zoomed in on her expression as Nils Bruno landed his first award for Best Actor. I like this line, and I wanted to show that she was in the audience, so, I’m going to put it back in and amend it:
Twila’s question meant she’d managed to pull off a gracious smile when the camera panned her direction and zoomed in as Nils Bruno climbed to the stage.
Three seconds. The camera turned on her for roughly as long as their marriage had lasted. Still, it was long enough to drill a hole clean through her, leave her exhausted and raw as she watched Nils accept the award, nod to his new wife and cleanly excise from his life the woman who’d believed in him, the one who’d ran lines with him, and who footed the bill for his shiny white teeth.
Now, she added a gracious tone. The Academy clearly saw his talent.”
Talent. Like emptying half her bank account, and totaling her Astin Martin. That took real talent. Smile.
“So, are you interested in co-starring again with him? Now that’s he’s an Oscar winner?
Translation: now that Nils Bruno, aka Robby Brunardo, former car-washing burger flopper from McDonalds had outshone her on the big screen?
Anyone would be privileged to work with him
If she smiled any harder, she might grind her molars to dust.
He used to wear male shaping accessories under his clothes for his publicity shots! she wanted to scream at the top of her lungs.
But a woman trying to charm Hollywood into backing her recent Indy film, the one she hoped would launch her from action-thriller babe to serious actress, shouldn’t publically disparage one of America’s ‘sexiest men alive’.
She still had his old ratty converse in a box at home. Maybe she could sell it on e-bay, earn some cash to promote her film, maybe raise some discerning heads in the industry…
Oh, who was she kidding?
But, I like it. It gives us a sense of the real girl inside. I’m keeping it.
Oh, who was she kidding? She’d been Hayes O’Brien, 006, international action heroine for so long, directors probably forgot she’d earned a degree in drama at Duke. Or that, for a very short run, she’d even been courted by Broadway.
Then again, maybe everyone had simply weeded through her airbrushed beauty to the truth. She couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag.
I don’t know – I have mixed feelings about putting a makeup label in there – she seems more about natural beauty. Maybe airbrushed?
Greg Alexander, agent extraordinaire
, tucked his blackberry into his pocket, slid in closer to her, and wrapped a warm hand around her shoulders. She didn’t lean into him – better not encourage the press. I am going to change this up, add a picture of Greg first, then Greg.
Oh, no, there went Tommy Nave’s nasally sixth grade voice in her head again. She shivered again.
Greg Alexander wrapped his warm arm around her shoulders. “Tony will be here in a minute. He’s about five limos back.”
She wanted to lean into him – better not encourage the press. They already had her dating at least three actors, two of whom she’d never even met. The last thing she needed was a scandal about dating her agent.
I’m not sure I want to dig too deep with that – I think keeping the reader wondering what is going on – and of course, we know about her hubby – is enough. Besides, I think her agent is about encouraging her…
“You’re doing great, Mackenzie,” Greg said, lifting his hand to wave to – oh it didn’t matter. She looked away.
You’re doing great.
She managed a wan smile as another flash went off.
He sounded like a doctor, just another pinch, and yes, this will hurt a bit.
(deleted) She felt as if she’d had her insides filleted watching Nils march down the red carpet, looking resplendent in his tails.
I like Rachel’s note here. I also didn’t like ‘felt’ —
This will hurt a bit. Watching Nils arrive before the show and walk the red carpet – without her — had filleted her insides. Drawing a deep breath actually hurt between her ribs.
Because it wasn’t an actual wound, I needed to make the pain real instead of imaginary.
I like this comment – hopefully this is clearer.
She had turned off the television in the limo while they inched down Hollywood Boulevard before she did something stupid – or perhaps smart? – and ordered Tony to turn her around, take her home.
Besides, well, she didn’t exactly know where “home” might be anymore.
Greg lifted his arm, and waved Tony to the curb. “Okay, sweetheart, you go home, get changed, and I’ll meet you at the Vanity Fair party.” He held out his hand to MacKenzie, as if to help her into the limo.
She ignored it, let the footman open the door for her, gathered her dress and slid into the seat. But before Greg could shut the door, she put her hand out to stop it. “I’m not going.”
He’d been already turn
ing away, his attention migrating toward his next client. “What?” He looked baffled, as if she might have been speaking Bengali.i
Rachel is right – however, this is also a matter of style. I like to add the immediate, startled reaction with an italicized, What? Then, because she was recently overseas, I wanted to bring on that element. But, it could be pared down…
“Did you say you weren’t going?”
“I’m not going.” MacKenzie began
pull ing off one of her Jimmy Choos. “I’m tired. I still have jet lag, and I’ll just be followed around all night with microphones and cameras, gossip magazines wondering if I’m still pining after Nils. The answer, by the way, is no.” She waited for a response, but he just stared at her, as if still trying to comprehend her words.
Yes, Greg is sharper than this, but he is baffled that she’d do this, esp. on such an important night.
He’d turned away, migrating toward his next client. “What?” Now, he looked as if she might have been speaking Bengali. “Did you say you weren’t going?”
“No.” MacKenzie began pulling off one of her Jimmy Choos. “I’m tired. I have jet lag, and I’ll just be followed around all night with microphones and cameras, gossip magazines wondering if I’m pining after Nils.”
She waited for a response, but he just stared at her, as if still trying to comprehend her words.
“Greg, I just want to go home, soak in a bath, maybe eat some pizza.” Or pie. Yes, pie. Good idea!
“I just want to go home, soak in a bath, maybe eat some pizza.” Or pie. Yes, a creamy – maybe coconut cream, or…yes, banana cream! pie. The closest thing she was going to get to bananna puddin’ this side of the Mississippi.
Greg finally stirred to life – probably at the thought of her reckless consumption of calories. “Kenzie, hon, you need the press on your side when you go out knocking on doors to find backers. Tonight is the perfect night to generate buzz. You’ve been laying low for –” I really like the “reckless consumption of calories” – that’s a big part of her life. *g* But I like the movers and shakers comment….
Greg finally stirred to life – probably at the thought of her reckless consumption of calories. “Kenzie, hon, you need to schmooze, get some face time with the right people if you hope to get backers for your film. Tonight is the perfect night to generate some buzz. You’ve been laying low for too –”
“I’ll call you later.” She pulled the door closed and leaned against the seat, thankful for the silence embedded in the plush seats. Tony, his dark hair slicked back, a silver earring in his left ear glanced up at her in the rear view mirror.
“Home, Miss Grace?”
She pressed her arms against her waist. We need a physical reaction, or a beat here before we get into internal thought.
She watched the crowd wave as her limousine pulled away.
home was a tidy double-wide with brown shag carpeting, a weather-bare pink velour sofa, and an irritable tabby named Boss probably running its claws down her mother’s orange polyester drapes. There’d be a bowl of cold grits in the fridge, and possibly a container of store-bought animal crackers on the counter with the lions missing, of course. And her father slumped asleep in his ripped vinyl recliner waiting for her mother get off her shift at the rayon factory.
Home. Home was a tidy double-wide with brown shag carpeting, a weather-bare pink velour sofa, and an irritable tabby named Boss probably running its claws down her mother’s orange polyester drapes. There’d be a bowl of cold grits in the fridge, and possibly a container of store-bought animal crackers on the counter with the lions missing, of course. And her father slumped asleep in his ripped vinyl recliner waiting for mama to get off her shift at the rayon factory.
Longing curled through her they passed the luminous red pagoda of Mann’s Chinese theater, lit up for the Academy Awards, and across the street, Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel, its neon red-sign an icon of the silver screen.
I would, but she’s only driving by it now, and I want to continue to build storyworld, inserting it as she moves through the scene. I think it works here.
Places her parents had never seen.
Never would, thanks to the fact that Mama couldn’t figure out how those “tin cans stay in the air.”
MacKenzie eased off her other shoe, and brought her foot up to rub the stress from her cramped toes. “Could we stop by Patrick’s Roadhouse, maybe pick up a banana cream pie?”
Tony flashed her a smile, again in the mirror and it was the first genuine thing she’d see all day.
She closed her eyes, forcing herself not to see Nils with Isobel.
“A whole pie, or just a piece, ma’am?” Tony said, pulling up to the Roadhouse. The place teemed with people, some eating out on the patio, and hers wasn’t the only limo in the parking lot.
“Just a piece would be perfect.”
It wasn’t her mama’s, but then again, the roadhouse didn’t have her mama’s secret ingredient, the taste of love, rolled out on the yellow formica counter. .
Oh brother, she was turning into a country-song right before her eyes. Next thing, she’d dissolve into a y’all while she was fixin’ to dive into her paeh.
I’m not sure – I like the country home feel of it…that she used to be a country girl. I think we need to keep it.
It wasn’t her mama’s bannana puddin’, but then again, the roadhouse didn’t have her mama’s secret ingredient, the taste of love, in stove-top cooked cream, stirred with a wooden spoon, her mama’s hand cradling hers.
Oh brother, she was turning into a country-song right before her eyes. Next thing, she’d dissolve into a y’all while she was fixin’ to dive into her paeh.
Tony returned with her comfort food
Rachel is really on the right track here. Although, sometimes I think we put too many physical responses in a story. I’d like to reveal it through her attitude. Yes, it’s showing, but sometimes I like to pull back and let the reader infer the meaning.
So…I’m going to keep her reactions in how she eats the pie…very much like a child, craving her “comfort food,” leaving out the physical reaction, because we can infer it from our own memories of eating pie (or something else with our fingers).
Tony returned with the pie in a Styrofoam container and she didn’t bother to wait until she’d changed out of her dress to dive in. She did manage to restrain herself from licking the cream from the container with her tongue. She used her finger, instead, just for Mama.
They pulled into her winding, Cyprus tree bordered drive and stopped at her front portico.
The lights sprayed down from the hovering palms as she stepped out onto her terracotta-tiled porch, and handed Tony the empty container and her fork in a bag. Then she scooped up her shoes, dangling them from her fingers as she tiptoed into the house.
The front door opened without pause – Tony must have unlocked it remotely — and she dropped her shoes onto a padded rattan bench, flicked on a light. “Marissa?”
No response from her housekeeper. Tony walked in behind her, carrying her purse. “Everything okay, Miss Grace?”
She glanced at him, and something about the way he looked past her, to her open living room made her pulse turn to slurry. “What is it?”
Again, I don’t love to write in too many physical reactions. Let’s keep it just in the showing, pulling back to use metaphor to show the scene….which lends itself well to Rachel’s next comment:
The light pressed away the shadows of the main room, glaring on the white leather sofa, the mahogany side tables, a shiny bookcase filled with souvenirs from Paris, Monaco, south Africa. Overhead, the fan stirred the smells of the freshly potted gardenias, brought in for her arrival home yesterday. Beyond that, the dark bank of windows lead to the pool area, but her gaze fixed on the center of the room, as if under a spotlight, the white, misshapen mass atop the glass coffee table.
“Did you have that shipped, because it wasn’t in your luggage.” He touched his hand on her arm ever so briefly, then moved past her, toward the object.
He’d reached it and now pulled the cover off.
But we miss a beat if we don’t have him do something that stop her words and shows the next action…
He reached it, and yanked the cover off.
I am going to bridge it by adding meaning instead of physical response…
MacKenzie fought the swirl of delight that found her chest. Nils hadn’t forgotten. No, he’d remembered their joke, her first red-carpet appearance when she’d nearly ended up on her face in front of Meryl Streep. MacKenzie the Elephant.
So, he’d given her an elephant every Oscar year since.
An elephant in bronze on her coffee table. A china elephant in her kitchen. An impressionist print of an elephant over her fireplace.
And now, a nearly life-sized stuffed baby elephant in the middle of her family room, wrapped in a magnificent yellow bow.
I really want the elephant to be OUT of the carton. She didn’t send it…and I want to tug at the reader’s heartstrings, making them think that Nils remembered, just like she does.
And this year, a nearly life-sized stuffed baby elephant, wrapped in a magnificent yellow bow.
So, maybe she’d forgive him for not mentioning her tonight in his litany of thank-yous. He clearly remembered what they’d had together, knew what she’d meant to him. “I can’t believe – “
I think it is a stronger suspense device if we find that out in the next chapter. Right now, we need to think it’s Nil’s. If we stop, then we aren’t taken by surprise. We want to capture the reader’s attention. We don’t want to give away too much right now. But, we could read more into it, just one line that makes us realize there is more to the story…
But Tony had finished reading the card, and when he turned, his expression stopped her cold. Chilled her to the bone.
Oh no – not again —
And that’s when she heard the ticking.
Tony had slapped his arm around her waist and was already tackling her to the floor when the bomb exploded.
Yay! Now, I’m going to clean it up a bit and we’ll post the final draft tomorrow, then, it’s on to Chapter one, Scene 2!
Oh, and the discussion on this first scene has been great — we’ll be taking in your comments as we edit this last scene. As always, if you have any further comments, questions or suggestions, go to www.mybooktherapy.ning.com and add your voice to the discussion!