Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Delete Key

The dreaded key. Sometimes known as "backspace", and also referred to as "ctrl-x".

Ctrl-X even sounds bad. Like a disease, or an experiment gone wrong.

Sometimes that's what it is.

Writing is an experiment. Especially to someone like me, affectionately known as a "pantser". I don't have my plot all figured out when I sit down to write a story. Sometimes I don't even know who's writing the damn thing, thanks to living with an alter-ego in my head.

And so I've become quite friendly with the delete key. For example, I wrote a scene in my first m/m attempt. It's a pretty sensuous elevator ride:

Jackson gripped the chrome bar behind him in the elevator. The State Insurance offices were on the fifth floor, but he really had no idea how to find Noah. He'd waited by the truck that Noah had driven from the bar, but after every other vehicle left the lot, Jackson had gathered his courage and entered the building.

Maybe there would be a directory. Or a receptionist. Maybe he'd just walk around until he found him. Maybe Noah went home with somebody else. A woman. A man?

Maybe I should have called. Maybe Noah won’t be happy to see me.


He wiped his hands on his jeans. He had to take that chance. The building was all but deserted at five thirty. Noah probably wasn't even in his office.

The elevator stopped on the fifth floor, and just as Jackson pushed away from the wall, he looked up to see Noah on the other side. He let his gaze travel down the man's crisp shirt and pleated dress pants, then back up to his eyes.

Noah had done his own perusing, but he hadn't moved to enter the elevator. When their eyes met, Jackson smiled, and reached out to hold the doors.

"Going down?"

Jackson couldn't help but smile at the flush of awareness that darkened Noah's cheeks. Years ago, they would use double entendres just like that to get under each-other's skin.

Oh yeah, Noah remembered. He looked around the empty hallway before spearing him with those serious eyes. "What are you doing here?"

Jackson's smile faded at the harsh tone. This was a bad idea. He shook his head with a sad smile, dropped his arms to his sides, and took a step further into the elevator. "You don't have to worry. I'm not here to ruin your life."

Noah closed his eyes for a long moment, then walked into the elevator. When the doors closed behind him, Jackson took his time soaking him in.

From the top of his messy brown hair to those lips that Jackson knew could be both soft and demanding. His gaze moved down his stubbly jaw to the masculine jut of his Adam's apple. The man was beautiful.

And straight.

"How did you find me?"

Jackson smiled. "The waitress at Jonny's. Seems you have an admirer."

"Oh. Yeah." Noah's eyes lowered to the ugly tile floor, but Jackson's cock jerked as they swept down his torso.

At least he didn't look mad. Not that Jackson could tell, Noah was pretty good at hiding his emotions. "Are you pissed?"

Noah met his eyes again. "We'd agreed to a clean break." His voice was husky. Distracted. The hunger in his gaze was encouraging.

That didn't really answer his question, but Jackson's mouth went dry, and he wanted to close his eyes and just enjoy the knowledge that Noah was here. Looking at him with such familiarity that neither could deny the fact that they shared something intense. He didn't close his eyes though. Instead he relearned the man in front of him. Noah's skin was darker than it had been, and the freckle at the corner of his left eye didn't show up like it used to. Still, the memory of kissing that mark on their first night together was enough to send his gut twisting.

The combined rasp of their breathing drowned out the tinny music piped in through the ceiling. Electricity arced from them to bounce off the elevator car, leaving Jackson's skin pebbling with each buzzing lick. Noah took a step closer and Jackson leaned in. When Noah stiffened and sucked a breath through his teeth, Jackson took the cue and leaned away.

Noah sighed. Whether from frustration or relief, Jackson couldn't tell, as he'd turned to face the panel by the door. After flexing his fingers and clenching them into fists a few times, he ran his hand through his hair.

"I just want to talk to you, Noah." Jackson gripped the metal bar until his palms squeaked against it.

Noah didn't face him. He didn't acknowledge his words, but he didn't open the elevator doors to get back off either. Each second that the man willingly stayed in the cubicle gave Jackson hope that he'd listen, but those doors could open any second and he'd lose the man again.

"Regardless of what we once were, I still consider you a friend. The only one I ever told a bunch of shit about me. The only one who won't judge me. I'm just here to talk. Catch up. Not ruin your life. I'm not going to blackmail you, or out you to your friends and coworkers. I didn't come here to seduce you—"

"Fuck." Noah hissed. He spun to face Jackson, and caged against the wall.

Now he looked pissed.

"You didn’t seduce me. I knew exactly what I was doing back then."

Noah's passion—whether laced with anger or desire—was like an aphrodisiac that went straight to Jackson's gut, then spread into his extremities, including his cock. He gripped the bar behind him to hold himself steady. It was either that or throw his arms around Noah and bring their bodies the last few inches together. Noah's position could have been either aggressive or sexual, but Jackson's cock didn't care which. All it would take was a deep breath from either of them to cause their chests to brush. The heat that Noah put off should have sent billows of steam through the conditioned air.

"As a matter of fact, I seem to remember a few times when I seduced you. And it looked like you enjoyed it."

Christ, Noah felt good against him, riding his front with heat, and bending him over the chrome bar at his hips.

When Noah flared his nostrils to take in a lungful of their shared breath, Jackson swallowed a groan. "I thought you'd forgotten." He released his death grip on the bar to pull the man against him.


Jackson flinched at the barked command, and dropped his hands before even making contact.

"I swore I'd never touch another man. I don't break promises, especially to myself." Noah hadn't moved. They still shared the space of one, yet they hadn't touched. "I didn't restrict my other senses. I can still look, and…" He closed his eyes and breathed deeply through his nose. "You smell the same."

Noah's breath brushed across his cheek and neck; his face rubbed against Jackson's aura as if he could somehow feel his flesh from an inch away.

Jackson's eyelids drifted closed, and he reached again for the metal bar behind him. "And you," he inhaled, "have a new soap." He could have kicked himself for that admission. That's giving away too much, Jack. Back off. "I…I mean—"

"I changed everything." Noah's whisper came from the other side of Jackson's face.

Jackson clenched his teeth. It was the sweetest torture having Noah mere inches away from him and not being able to touch. His hands slipped in the layer of sweat he'd left on the elevator bar, but he wouldn't let go. To touch Noah now would send the man running.

"Are you still the same man inside?" As Jackson spoke, he remembered Noah's bitter taste on his tongue, and swallowed hard.

"I don't know, Jackson." Noah's voice was sad, the words spoken somewhere near Jackson's shoulder.

Rather than turn toward his face, Jackson leaned away, giving Noah more room, baring his neck like some primitive surrender.

"I don't want to be that man," Noah continued. "I hated the man I was."

"I wouldn't have made it if you weren't that man."

Noah's breathing hitched, then continued brushing Jackson's skin. Hoping he could control himself with the sight of Noah this close, Jackson peeled his eyes open, bracing himself against the desire to turn his face to capture those lips. Noah's brow was wrinkled, his eyes closed. Maybe the guy was just trying to detach himself from this very personal act, but Jackson's mouth watered at the thought of kissing him. Or just to smooth those stray strands of hair away from his forehead.

Just then, the elevator started moving. Someone had called it. Noah's eyes snapped open, and he took a giant step away. His attention dropped to that sweet spot below Jackson's belt. The erection strong and thick, tenting his jeans. Noah swore and adjusted his own cock and turned to face the doors just as they opened.

So I kinda like that scene! Unfortunately, I was awakened the other night with the realization that Noah was a construction worker, not an insurance salesman. That changed everything. Especially the need for the elevator. So I cozy up to the delete key. I ask for mercy. "Please be gentle." I stroke the raised text on the key. I beg for forgiveness. I try to figure out some other reason these two would meet at this particular time in an elevator.

I know I should just do it. The scene doesn't work any more. I can't use it later in the book, because Noah and Jackson's relationship will have evolved.

As you can see, I haven't surrendered it to the Delete Gods just yet, but that damn rectangular key is mocking me right now.

~ Olivia Brynn


Jean said...

For God's sake, don't delete this scene!!! Couldn't they be at motor vehicles or visiting an insurance agent or going to a restaurant on the top of a building? Geez, Dawne. This is a great scene. Come up with a plan to save it, pleeeeze!

Sarah said...

New file, copy, paste and save.

Don't delete!

Alanna Coca said...

Thanks ladies. I'm trying like hell to figure out a way to keep it. I'll keep you informed :)

Alanna AKA Olivia

Vivien Jackson said...

I save mine. All of them. Even if they don't make it into the story, I loved writing them. So I understand the delete-key dilemma. Best luck!

Gem Sivad said...

The delete key is my evil temptation. But like Vivien and Sarah said, copy, save in a handy file...but like Jean said, "For God's sake, don't delete this scene!" :)

Kayelle Allen said...

I agree. Don't toss it. Good thing for us you shared it here! I have a huge "Deleted files" folder with lots of random things. When I need inspiration, I cruise thru there and read until something jumps out at me. I might not use the exact piece, maybe only a line or two, but I keep cut scenes. Maybe one day I'll do a "Deleted Scenes" book full of these kinds of goodies. :) Good story.

Alanna Coca said...

Good points everyone. I'm still trying to mold the story around this scene, and my characters aren't really listening. They've got their own story to tell!

The joys of pantsing.