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Friday, July 7, 2017
Like any completed novel, Oceania: The Underwater City went through many revisions before I came to a final manuscript ready for publication. I removed many scenes and passages I liked at the time of writing it, but later thought was either unnecessary or didn’t read as strongly as I wanted it to. So now, I’m going to share some of the scenes I removed from Oceania: The Underwater City before it reached its final version. But don’t worry, I’ve edited out any and all grammar mistakes. The only thing that remains unchanged is the scene or passage content itself. I hope you enjoy it and if you did (or didn’t) leave me a comment below and let me know.
I went through several different rewrites of the opening chapter of the novel. I knew that I wanted Allie to be leaving her grandmother’s house, but I wasn’t sure which was the strongest way to write it. The following passage is one of the previous rewrites I decided not to go with:
The burn in my eyes threatened to overtake them, pouring frustrated tears of anger down my cheeks, but I resisted them. This always happens whenever she calls. Sometimes I wonder if she even cares about me.
Stopping for a moment, I glanced back at Grandmother’s house. Paint cracked and peeled off the edges of the siding. A once vivid yellow house now faded to a pale beige color. Two lonely-looking windows fanned the sides of a shaded brown door. All around the property was a limp brown fence, encompassing a yard with brownish-yellow grass.
Grandmother’s face appeared in the window to the left of the front door. On the other side of the fence, I stood too far away to see her eyes but I knew they held sympathy for me.
At first, I struggled with how Dylan could show Allie around the city in an exciting way without it being redundant. I also wanted to somehow integrate the OVRR into part of it. I ultimately decided to take my time with Allie’s tour of Oceania and give away pieces bit by bit. Early on, the following passage was how Allie toured the city:
“Hold on, I’ve got a better idea.” Dylan pressed a few buttons midair and the entire room went black. “It’ll take forever for me to show you around Oceania by train or foot, so I’ll give you a virtual tour. You’ll still feel like you’re getting a real experience, just quicker.”
The black void vanished and I found myself floating in the air. It felt so real that I screamed, kicking my feet loosely.
“Allie…Allie, it’s okay. You won’t fall. I just thought this would be a cool way to see the city.”
I looked over at Dylan with wild eyes. His face was calm and he held his hand out to me. I grabbed it and steadied myself in the air.
“Just think about what you want, this is virtual reality, I might be in control of designing the world, but you’re still in control of what happens to you here if you focus hard enough. Concentrate on being stable in the air and you will be.”
I nodded furiously like a bobble head, trying to calm down. Closing my eyes and forgetting what all was around me, I drew in a deep breath through my nose and let it out through my mouth.
When I opened my eyes, my feet were steady as if they were situated on solid ground.
“Are you good, Allie?” Dylan slowly released my hand and backed away.
“Yeah, I’m fine. What was it that you wanted to show me?”
He gave a white-toothed grin. “Follow me.”Dylan began to dive down and fly through the air like he was Peter Pan, arms out, gliding down with both legs pressed together.
Shocked, I followed, concentrating on maintaining my stability in the air. I mimicked holding my arms out and legs tightly together like Dylan had done and was easily able to keep up with him.
Gliding through the air like eagles, we flew in the direction of downtown. Before we got too close, however, Dylan veered to the left towards a grassy area with lower buildings scattered around in concentric circles.
“The city of Oceania is broken down into several zones or districts. There are districts for every major part of the city.” Dylan pointed to the zone just to the left of us. “That’s the Center of Knowledge, located in the Education Zone One. The university is housed in the silver building; it’s the tallest one in the Center of Knowledge. There are thirty different floors and three basement levels. Every different discipline or area of study has its one entire floor, except for marine studies; they have the all three basement floors.”
Scanning the area, I pointed to a shorter building with a domed top. “Which building is that?”
“That one is the library. It’s hard to see from here but it is six stories and has both a physical and digital collection.”
I glanced over at Dylan in excitement then back down at the building. Tucking in my arms against my body and straightening my legs, I took the shape of a torpedo and plummeted toward the center square right in front of the library. Wind kissed my cheeks as my velocity increased. About ten feet from the ground, I flipped my body around, landing on the ground light as a feather on my tiptoes, easing myself down.
Dylan dropped down hard on the ground as if he were Iron Man. “Guess you got used to the feeling of flying.”
I took off up the four steps to the building with Dylan right behind me. “Yeah, I really want to see the physical books. I’ve never seen a physical book collection. The only ones I’ve ever seen were from 3D printers. They weren’t quite the real thing.”
“They don’t have any in your city?” wondered Dylan, perplexed.
I opened the glass door to the library as I replied, “No, in most cities on land the libraries housing physical books are extinct except for a few in select cities. Chicago had lost all of theirs long before I ever moved there…Before I knew it, we were whooshed out of the library and I found myself hovering next to Dylan in the air again.
“Sorry, Allie, we need to keep moving if you want to see the majority of the city.”
My senses returned to me and I understood what Dylan was saying. “I understand, that’s fine.”
Pushing off an invisible ground, I flew as high in the sky as I could. From up here, I could see everything in the city, albeit it was so small that it looked like an ant farm. “Hey, Dylan, what is that district? Can you point them all out to me?”...
There’s more to this scene, but it would be giving away too much of the novel if I included it. I don’t want to have any spoilers in this post.
So what do you think? Do you wish any of these scenes or passages should have been in Oceania: The Underwater City final version? If you want to, leave me a comment below and let me know.
Remember, this is the last chance you have to suggest a topic for the week of July 17th’s blog post. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by this week!