Deleted Scene from Silent Song

Silent Song is a second chance romance. As such, there’s a whole other story about what happened between Gin and Lex years ago. Part of figuring out who they are now and how their relationship works now involved looking at their shared past, so I have a ton of material about The Old Days.

The problem with any second chance romance is that it’s about the second chance, not the first attempt that failed, so no matter how great (or not) that ton of historical material may be, very little of it belongs in the book. Like any flashback, if it’s not immediately relevant to the now story, it’s not relevant at all.

This scene hung around longer than its peers that got cut. If I remember correctly, I was trying (unsuccessfully) to make it relevant to a subplot. When I cut three or four days from the story timeline and there wasn’t enough time for that subplot to happen, there was no longer even a flimsy excuse for keeping this scene. I thought about it yesterday, though, so I’m going to break my rule about sharing junk that ended up on the cutting room floor. (I usually don’t even save a file of what gets cut, but I kept 7,000 words trimmed from this book because I can’t let go.)

This didn’t make it anywhere near the final draft, so the writing isn’t polished. In fact, since it’s almost entirely dialogue (as all my early drafts are—I make the characters “tell me” the story) and I don’t wanna write junk good, I’ve tagged the speakers à la poorly formatted script and jiggered some of the actions to help you follow along (making it even messier!).

Since there’s zero indication of setting, Gin, Lex, Ethan, and Olivia are hanging out at the kitchen counter, waiting for food to be done. I believe Lex was on chef duty.

OLIVIA: “Just enough time for truth or dare.”
GIN: (groans) “Not again.”
OLIVIA: “Fine. I’ll start with Lex. Truth or dare, darling?”
GIN: “He always picks dare.”
ETHAN: “Dare him to pick truth.”
LEX: “Dare is for drunks too dumb to know better. Truth.”
ETHAN: “Ooh, ask him something juicy.”
OLIVIA: “He’s discreet, and I don’t want him to stop playing. I’ll make it easy. When was the first time Gin said ‘I love you’?”
GIN: “God, Liv. That was a million years ago.”
LEX: “Six,” he corrected. “Fourth of April. I was filming an acoustic set at a little club in San Francisco. She said it between smacking my ass and shoving me onto the stage.”
GIN: (quietly) “I didn’t know you caught that.”
LEX: “It didn’t register until two days later, after you’d flown back to L.A. I was brushing my teeth, so I was literally foaming at the mouth while howling obscenities at my reflection for letting the moment sail past unacknowledged.”
GIN: “It slipped. I was relieved it didn’t distract you right before a performance.”
LEX: “I didn’t miss it because I was drunk or deafened by the audience or thinking deep thoughts about the setlist. I just absorbed it like every prior demonstration of her love, confident there was more where that came from. I took it for granted.”
OLIVIA: “My god, Lex, you’re a cold bastard.”
GIN: “He is not. I don’t need to hear ‘I love you’ parrotted back at me.”
LEX: “You deserve a lot more than you need.”
GIN: (downcast eyes)
OLIVIA: “Your turn, Gin and Tonic. When did Lex first say those three little words millions of women would die to hear?”
ETHAN: “You didn’t offer her a dare.”
GIN: “She knows I’m the most sober person who ever lived and as such would never choose a dare.”
(Prolonged silence.)
LEX: “And this wrenching pain in my soul is what I deserve for my insensitivity.”
GIN: “I didn’t forget. I’m trying to decide between the first time and the first time I count. In the spirit of my blurt in place of ‘break a leg,’ I’ll go with the first-first. Fourth of June.”
OLIVIA: (smacks the counter) “Two months, Lex?”
GIN: “He was on the road. I was shooting. And it probably took every minute of that time to set this up. In the morning, a limo took me to the most exclusive spa for hours of pampering.”
LEX: (rueful) “If I haven’t said it before, I’m sorry.”
GIN: “You meant well.”
OLIVIA: “Sorry for what? Spa days are the best days.”
LEX: “You are not Gin.”
GIN: “They did my hair and makeup and zipped me into an exquisite Elie Saab gown that you’ve seen me wear a dozen times because red carpet attire is spendy and no one lends me dresses to befoul with my scar.”
OLIVIA: “The sparkly blush thing? He has great taste.”
LEX: “Again, sorry.”
OLIVIA: “Why? She looks like a goddess in that!”
LEX: (narrative) By moonlight, she looked naked and covered in sparkling dewdrops. “If you’d been shoved into costumes since infancy and put on display, you might be less keen to be dressed up like a little doll on your first day off in months.”
GIN: (stares at him)
LEX: “I am bursting with hindsight.”
GIN: (soft laugh) “You meant well. My chauffeur for the day transported me to a marina, where I boarded a yacht and finally reunited with my Prince Charming.”
LEX: “Who was too puffed up with pride in his big production to recognize the signs that his Princess Fair had strong feelings about boats that rival his about planes.”
OLIVIA: (exaggerated horror) “No.”
GIN: “In his defense, I didn’t know, either. I’d never had that reaction before. Apparently, isolation in a gaping void miles from the nearest assistance looks like death to me now.”
ETHAN: “We’re making this nightmare of a romantic comedy. Who are we casting?”
OLIVIA: “Me and Ryan Reynolds.”
GIN: “I want to be played by Ronda Rousey.”
LEX: “I want to be played by Ariana Grande.”
ETHAN: “We can probably get both of them for a fraction of the cost of White-Church and Reynolds.”
OLIVIA: “Ugh. You and your budget take all the fun out of everything.”
GIN: “That’s what it says on my business cards. We arrived at a tiny coastal island, which was still isolated but at least not heaving under my feet. There was a little ruined building for shelter. That dress would make a great fishing net. I could have survived quite happily on that little rock and never gotten back on the boat. But before I went full Castaway, we were served an extravagant meal prepared by the hottest celebrity chef at the time.”
LEX: “At the time, everything tasted like cardboard to me. Were you too traumatized by the boat to eat, or was the food that bad?”
GIN: “Fun fact about famous TV chefs—in the absence of taste-o-vision, everything they cook can taste like cardboard as long as it looks pretty for the camera.”
OLIVIA: (awed) “Wow. You were operating at maximum fail.”
LEX: “It gets worse. My subconscious was clearly punishing me for missing the easiest, most natural opportunity to turn to her and say, ‘I love you, too.’”
GIN: “A string quartet was brought up from the bowels of the hell ship. Fireworks were launched from the deck. He took my hand.” She took his now. “And got down on bended knee.” She did.
ETHAN: “Dude.”
OLIVIA: “There had better be a ring in this story.”
LEX: “I planned this for two months, and it didn’t occur to me once how it would look.”
GIN: “I was confident I had him trained that we would discuss mutual major life decisions at least a little bit before charging ahead, so I honestly didn’t think it would be a proposal.”
LEX: “Did you think I tortured you for hours to make sure you’d be thrilled when I broke up with you?”
GIN: “No, but that’s going in our Ronda-Ariana romcom because it’s genius. I thought you were going to say, ‘I’m really sorry, but the city is under attack and in order to save millions of lives, I have to sacrifice you to the Kraken.’”
ETHAN AND OLIVIA: (yowl with laughter)
GIN: “And I would have been thrilled to be sacrificed if it meant not getting back on that boat.”
LEX: (pulls her to her feet) “I am indescribably sorry.”
GIN, ETHAN, AND OLIVIA, IN UNISON: “You meant well.”
GIN: “He finally spat it out. I got teary, mostly because I knew it was time to get back on the boat and no Kraken sacrifice would spare me. And we all lived happily ever after.” Twirled her hand. “Or lived, at least.”
OLIVIA: “You’re usually so smooth. How could you be so awful with your one true love?”
LEX: “Gin hates smooth. She wants rough edges and splinters so she can see what the raw material is really made of.”
GIN: “It was made of two months of planning, by a man who abhors clocks and calendars. I appreciate the effort he put into it.”
LEX: “But in hindsight, all that effort produced precisely the sort of elaborate production Gin associates with fakery.”
GIN: “I never thought the sentiment was ungenuine. It just came from flash-and-dazzle Lex Perry rather than… you. Like you still thought I needed to be impressed and that kind of show would impress me. Instead of forward progress, it felt like a setback.” Shrugged. “And the next day, he gave me a piece of seaglass he said matched my eyes, only to snatch it back and tell me he was keeping it because I have my eyes all the time and he obviously needed a token of them more than I did, which was way more consistent with the man I loved and put everything right again.”
OLIVIA: (gives Lex a knowing look)
LEX: (shakes his head) (narrative) He still had that piece of glass. He kept it bedside so he woke up to green eyes every day. Tucked in a corner of his suitcase now because, for now, he could go look at the real thing—which was creepy and not for Gin’s ears.

(Bit of a gap in the timeline. Olivia and Ethan have left the kitchen and Gin is about to follow them.)

LEX: “When was the first time you count?”
GIN: “You only said it once in a moment that didn’t feel scripted.”
LEX: (stunned) “Once?”
GIN: “I felt loved. It didn’t matter when you said it or if you never said it at all.”
LEX: “When was the one time?”
GIN: “You were writing. You had a guitar in your hands and a pencil clenched between your teeth and headphones on. I stuck my head in the room, I suppose to see if you wanted food. You gave me the most ferocious scowl, picked the pencil out of your mouth long enough to snarl, ‘I love you, go away,’ and got back to your song.”
LEX: “How romantic.”
GIN: “You weren’t trying to be romantic. You weren’t trying to be anything. You were pissed off that I interrupted your angst with ushy-gushy love feelings just by showing my face and there was nothing you could do to stop it. I know the feeling, so that time it resonated more than pyrotechnics or in the heat of passion. Don’t listen to Olivia. You’re not bad at I love yous. Other women swoon over extravagant gestures. Olivia was practically drooling. Never use me as a romantic yardstick. I didn’t work out, remember?”

Realistically, Gin and Lex being two very private people, there’s almost no chance they’d air all of this in front of Olivia and Ethan. I think I was trying to justify it as being an amusing anecdote that they were performing rather than a baring of souls, but that would have been a weak excuse for that huge of a breach in characterization. Lex’s tendency toward lavish material gestures is briefly mentioned in the book in contrast to the space heater he orders for Gin, and that’s really all the mention it deserved. Gin’s preference for raw, unscripted emotion is also mentioned at least once in the book in appropriate context. I don’t see anything else here even remotely relevant to the now story, so cutting this scene was the right decision.

Nothing here readers need to know, but I was feeling nostalgic and thought I’d vent by providing a glimpse at my ugly, ugly writing process.

4 thoughts on “Deleted Scene from Silent Song”

  1. This is fascinating to me because what I get from Ren is in near-final condition.

    1. How many more drafts would it take for you to deem this fit for editorial eyeballs?
    2. What subplot was cut? That usually leaves a hole with ragged edges to repair, which I don’t remember being an issue with this one.

    1. 1. Probably three just for external elements, one or two to work on internals, plus a polish. Minimum of five.

      2. Please refer to the above as to why you don’t see a crater when I rip out a subplot. I can’t afford the level of service involved to have somebody else clean up that kind of mess!

      It involved tabloids getting way too much info about what was happening in the house. Lex blamed Livvy’s “promo” scheme. Gin had to dial him down a notch, so he hated himself for letting her see him being a bombastic idiot. When Livvy overdosed, he blamed himself because of their fight, and there was some aftermath to correct that. And in all of this commotion, it got overlooked that Simone is a horrid, attention-hungry traitor. Her whole thing was MUCH bigger, but it was the ONLY thing for 3 or 4 story days and destroyed the pacing since every other day had multiple strands going on. Moving everything else around to accommodate it fucked up continuity, but cutting the whole thing solved 95% of the problem, so… snip-snip.

      1. Now I see why it takes you a year to write a book. You’re a dream to edit, dahling, but that perfectionism is a time suck.

        1. Time saver for you, though. You can TELL me I need to add movement and description and delve deeper into the emotional stakes, or I can just do that because I know it needs to be done. I’ve never seen the value in turning in halfass work. An editor’s job is to improve the writing, but there’s only so much you can do, short of ghost-rewriting it, which isn’t in your job description. Let’s say there’s a (totally pulling this number out of a hat) 15% cap on editorial improvements. I’d rather have +15% on something decent than +15% on crap, so you’re not seeing it until it’s the best I can do on my own.

          If it’s “normal” for writers to ship off halfass work to be +15’d by their editors, that explains pretty much everything about my dissatisfaction with reading. Give me slower books that suck less, thank you very much.

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