Sometimes, while writing, I begin a scene that I enjoy working on, and is well-laid out in my head. But as I’m writing it, I begin to realize that the scene shouldn’t be there. It needs to be distinctly not there, and alluded to in the next, and later, scenes, if you follow me. Sometimes, I regret it, because I’m enjoying the scene. That’s the case here. I sort of like writing Sheriff Alan Peyton. I’ve referred to him elsewhere, though he hasn’t been present, and I wanted to meet him. But as I write, I realize that I don’t need to meet him. I have painted the shape of the man through other’s words, now I shouldn’t fill it.
Otherwise, I’m grateful that I noticed this when I was only 400 words into the scene, because it means I can erase it and get back on track. It means I won’t lose my rhythm and get bogged down. I can fix the problem before it kills a day of writing for me. So that’s always nice.
So, here’s 400 words of a scene I won’t use, about a character I won’t have. It’s deleted material, isn’t that exciting? If nothing else, I like it.
Every year, every lovin’ one of ‘em, Sheriff Alan Peyton eyed the coming winter months like an old enemy, coming after him again. He hated the cold, the wind, the ice; hated the way the world turned so gray and bleak – and when someone pointe dout to him how pretty winter was, well, he asked them why Christmas lights even got put up if white snow on gray was so nice, and no one ever had an answer.
He zipped up his brown sheriff’s jacket, because of the cold, and headed onto the railroad depot’s big platform, out back, and the thin layer of ice that had frozen over everything not covered in snow crunched underfoot, beneath his well-shined thin shoes. Shoes that did nothing against the cold.
Here is what you needed to know about Alan Peyton: his head hurts all the time; either the big whalloping headache that accompanied all his many hangovers, or else the tight little headaches that came from stress. His stomach is more of a paunch than he’s omfortable with, and whenever he sees any woman who is reasonably attractive, he tries to suck it all in. His wife left for someone he doesn’t know, in a state he’d never been to (Idaho), for reasons she shook her head and didn’t explain to him, and he tells himself that this, more than any other reason, is why he drinks whenever he can.
This morning, it was just a small hangover, combined with stress and lack of breakfast. His head hurt awfully.
He followed Mayor Harding up onto the platform. The mayor, fat and red-faced, puffed white breaths so rapidly, it was like following a train. And coming along behind him, there was ol’ Noah Hubbard, hefting his equipment along. It was heavy stuff, Alan guessed, and incomprehensible to him, but he’d been told what it was for.
Behind him, Noah muttered reproachfully, “S’no good, this. Cold an’ early, tell you what, does a man bad bein’ out like this, ‘cept for preachin’ on Sunday…”
Alan ignored him. It could’ve been a nice seventy degrees and sunny and the middle of the day, no less, and Noah would have still found something to dislike. It was what he did; he’d been a mechanic of various things for thirty years, but he’d been griping since birth.