Written Outtakes Festival

out⋅take  /ˈaʊtˌteɪk/ –noun 1. a segment of film or videotape edited out of the final version.... ~dictionary.com


I think most writers have scenes they've cut from stories, novels or screenplays -- the equivalent of piles of film lying in coils on the editing room floor. Scenes get cut for various reasons. Some were never intended to be in the final version, anyway, but were exercises used by a writer to get to know characters better. Others get the ax because a story is too long, or it just doesn't read right.

In Southern Man, the protagonist, Troy Stevenson and his wife, Patty, have a "storybook" marriage. The reader finds that Patty's adoration of her husband is "near idolatrous" and that Troy is "crazy about his wife."

But even in near-perfect marriages, couples experience those less-than-perfect moments that let them know they're still in the real world, as the following scene illustrates. (BTW, I never intended for this scene to be in the novel, as it doesn't advance the story; but it did help me get to know my characters better.)

Do you have outtakes from your stories or novels you'd like to share? If they're short, please share them in the comments. A bit longer? Email them to me at conniechastain@gmail.com and we'll see about making them a future blog post. Or, post them to your own blog or site and send us the link!

Let's have an Written Outtake Festival!
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Outtake from Southern Man

Patty steered the LeSabre down Benton Street to the intersection with busy Forsythe Avenue. She braked the vehicle to a halt and looked left and right. It was rush hour and traffic appeared to be nonstop in both directions.

Troy sat in the passenger's seat. They had just dropped off his vehicle at Abbott's for servicing tomorrow. Now he also looked left and right at the traffic and discerned breaks in both lanes that would reach the intersection at the same time.

"Go after that red Toyota," he said.

Patty studied the red vehicle's speed, looked in the other direction. She appeared to be getting ready to pull out when Troy suggested but the vehicle passed and the LeSaber didn't move.

"Go!" Troy said, but the window of opportunity was gone. "Why didn't you go?"

"Cars were moving too fast. The break in traffic wasn't big enough."

Troy groaned softly and began monitoring the traffic for another break. More seconds passed. "Okay...go! Now!"

Still, the LeSabre sat at the intersection, its turn signal ticking monotonously.

"What was wrong that time?"

Patty sighed. "I didn't know if that car in the outside lane might change lanes and hit us if I pulled out."

Troy nodded slightly, clamped his lips together and resumed looking for breaks in traffic.

Well aware of his exasperation, Patty said, "Do you want to drive?"

"I may have to if we want to get home toni--Go! Punch it!"

Patty punched it. The station wagon scooted across the intersection and turned left with a slight squealing of tires.