I’ve spent the last several days reworking one scene in my Phantom novel. It’s a pivotal scene near the end of Book Three, and because of the way I wrote this whole trilogy, I initially wrote it…three years ago? Four years ago? The point is, it was actually pretty early on in the writing of the whole project, because I was writing out of order at that point.
Well, coming up to today, I found that my writing has grown since then, and much of that original scene didn’t feel right anymore. I decided it would be better to just rewrite it than to try to revise, so I sat down and wrote through it again–in Meg’s point of view, as was the original.
Then I went to meet with a writing friend, we talked about our latest writing…and she wanted to see the scene from Erik’s point of view. And the more I thought about it…she was right. So I wrote it again–and now I’m working on a later bit of the same chapter that also needs to switch to Erik’s point of view. So it’s been an interesting few days, building a scene from different angles.
For fun, here’s two versions of the same moment–first from Meg, then from Erik.
The melody faded away in another bar, and it was good I was sitting down, it was good he had told me to sit down, because he had said—he had actually said… My eyes were hot and my throat was tight and I had to say something but I suddenly didn’t know…
He looked up at last, but he still didn’t look at me. He was staring very fixedly down the length of the room, gaze on his pipe organ but from the tightness in his face I didn’t think he was seeing it.
“The third verse, um, the last line, it doesn’t match the rest,” he said, conversationally but with a careful control to his voice that betrayed the emotion beneath the words. “And I’m not sure about, ah, the progression—of the melody, I mean, or the ideas, really. I thought—but I’m not sure—”
“Erik,” I interrupted, more to stop him talking than anything else. I’d stood up without noticing and now crossed the few steps to reach the piano. “Erik, you just said—”
“I know,” he said, voice strained. “I just—I wanted you to know.”
A few more notes, and then, silence. He stared at his hands, at his fingers against the ivory of the keys. All through the song, he hadn’t found the courage to look at her. He should, he had to—but she wasn’t saying anything, and Meg was not quiet, they had always talked so easily, at least after the first few meetings…it had only been a matter of seconds, any moment she was going to say something, and—
“The third verse,” he said desperately, trying to sound casual, holding himself tightly together because if he relaxed a muscle he knew he’d fall to pieces, “um, the last line of the third verse, it doesn’t match the rest. And I’m not sure about, ah, the progression—of the melody, I mean—or the ideas, really. I thought—but I’m not sure—”
“Erik,” she interrupted, and his name in her voice sent an ache through him. Footsteps followed, and he looked up instinctively before he could stop himself. She had risen from the chair—no fainting, that was something—crossed the steps between them to stand just on the other side of the piano. “Erik, you just said—”
“I know,” he said, and the words felt harder to force out than the entire song. “I just—I wanted you to know.”