Author James Patterson says, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Of course, I read this just after finishing a section in my book where I narrate the same scene twice – once as my main character’s wife (girlfriend at the time) saw it and then again from his point of view. I did this to show the different mindset each had at the time and also how that mindset determined which details of the event stay in their memory. I found it quite fascinating, but Patterson’s advice has me second-guessing my decision. I know, too, that we writers often fall in love with our own words and fail to cut things that are of no interest to the reader. So, I thought I’d throw the question out to you. Do you/would you enjoy reading the same scene twice from different perspectives? (I’ve included an excerpt from the scene in question below the poll if you want to read that before answering.)
Note: Names and other identifying information has been blacked out since the true identity and location of the main character will not be revealed until the book is published.
The day I finally found out everything about TEXT HERE‘s past began as just another one of those times when he was being evasive and turning my questions back on me. I was still asking the simple question, “What’s your real name?”
He gave one of his standard put-off question-answers, “Where you think I come from?”
But this time, I wasn’t in the mood for his games, so I told him, “I think you’re in the Witness Protection program or something.”
He went silent for a second and took a step back. Then he asked, “What makes you say that?”
“Because you’re insanely fanatical about your privacy. You have all these rules about what I can and can’t know, where we can and can’t go together, and what I can and can’t do with you. I know you’re dealing drugs. All the time, you’re leaving me alone all night and I don’t even know where you are. I’m sure that must be the kind of thing you were doing in your past life, too. I get worried sick. I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
“You’re right. TEXT HERE is not my real name,” he said, and started pulling out pictures of his former life in TEXT HERE. That was interesting and all, but it still didn’t really tell me who he was. Eventually, he said, “I tell you what. I’m going to leave, but I want you to look this over.” He got out a cream-colored photo album he had not shown me yet. “You should also search the Internet for the name TEXT HERE from TEXT HERE while I’m gone. There will be a lot of news articles to read over, besides the ones in this album, so take your time and go through it before I come back.”
As he was leaving, he asked if I would swear to secrecy what I was about to find out. I said I would. I was honored that he had finally entrusted me with the information he had guarded so fiercely. I kind of liked the idea that I would be the only person in TEXT HERE who knew his secrets. But, when I read those articles, the gut wrenching part of it was finally realizing that I didn’t know TEXT HERE at all. He was a figment of my imagination. A made up character out of some book.
Dealing with him was so exhausting day in and out. He never wanted to spend holidays with my family or me. It hurt to think he was always with that other family during those times. I took some comfort in thinking he was our little secret. I wore that like a badge of honor, until I found out later I was one of several people he had told some portion of his story to.
It was a weird situation and we had a strange relationship. It was like he held me to the highest expectation of loyalty and faithfulness but I dared not hold him to the same standard. All I can say is that I was a young girl with no self-respect. I could not see my own potential. I thought this was just how life was.
I remember vividly the day TEXT HERE came to my house on TEXT HERE Lane. This was a different house than the one we lived in together. I told her to meet me there because I needed to see her. Prior to her arrival, I was in deep meditation over my real life and the great affection I had for TEXT HERE. I really cared about her and trusted her, but I felt a deep guilt because I was living a lie. She didn’t even really know me. She had stole my soul and I wanted to advance our relationship. But before we did, I had to be honest with her about my past.
I was so tired of lying. I needed someone to accept me for me, so I was ready to tell her regardless of the consequences. I cried so bad before she got there because I wanted to be free and the pureness of her life and personality had made me begin to believe I could be.
I made the decision to tell her after calling my surrogate mother, TEXT HERE. I said, “I must tell this girl who I really am. If something would happen to her while she’s dealing with me … or if she put either me or her in danger because she’s unaware, I wouldn’t want to blame her. And I wouldn’t want her to blame me. Plus, I want someone I can trust to call my family if I get killed while running the streets here in TEXT HERE.” Mom had been saying I should tell her even before this, so she encouraged me to do it.
Once TEXT HERE got there, I started by describing different situations and asking her would she still deal with me if I done those sort of things. We was in my living room and I started showing her pictures of me from my past life, just to see how she would react and what questions she would have. At first, she asked simple questions, like how was I surrounded by so many celebrities and what my real name was. I was surprised when she finally said something about thinking I was in Witness Protection, but I thought, “Okay, now she’s ready to hear the rest.”
I took her into my office and showed her some of the newspaper articles about the organization I had been in and the trial. After telling her the so-called good part of my life (drug dealing, fame, fortune), I told her the story of my best friend TEXT HERE, and how much I loved and missed him. I explained that I had revenged his death and that’s what led me here to TEXT HERE. Then I told her that I was separated from my family because of that.
She had a look of bewilderment but she still seemed okay. She said, “I don’t care. That’s not bad. You’re good now, getting your life together. It’s no big deal.” That’s when I told her I wanted her to read some things, because I felt she didn’t understand. I must not have explained things fully. I reached in the file cabinet and pulled out my documents from the Witness Protection Program. They had all the information about the crimes I committed and so forth. I left the room. I was scared but it felt so good to finally tell someone everything about my life. It really didn’t matter if she accepted me or not, because it felt so good just telling her and handing someone else those documents.
I went back in the room later and asked her, “Now do you see who I am?” She acted like she was not fazed! I then told her all the details that wasn’t in the articles and paperwork. She stood there listening, showing no emotion. Like a judge, I thought. I was shaking inside, but it felt like I was in a Catholic confession booth being cleansed. Like a faucet turning on, the water of my story was running out my mouth and I didn’t stop until it was all drained.
She was not shaken afterwards. She hugged me and made me feel like she accepted me. I cried and, for the first time on this journey, I felt a sense of freedom.
I gave her the option to leave me, but she said not to worry about that. I felt she didn’t fully grasp what I had revealed, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was I finally let it all out.