Question: How do authors determine where to begin the story?

Answer: I imagine in a group of five authors, you’d obtain at least 2 different answers. How’s that for ambiguous?

Every writer has developed their own methods that work for them. We’re all different… as unique as our fingerprints. My method of ensuring my books start at the right place may be quite different from someone else’s method— and that’s perfectly OK.

My answer to this question: “As late as possible.”

This means I skip as much back story as possible— details that don’t really matter for the crux of the story yet it still makes sense. We dive right into action. It’s the latest possible moment when that ‘something’ happens and everything changes.

As I polished, finalized, evaluated The Bride Lottery in whole, I came to this conclusion with a little guidance from other authors to reinforce what I already knew. The story would be better served by cutting the opening scene (how Evelyn’s parents learn of her pregnancy). Ultimately, it didn’t matter to the story. The fact remained—they knew. And they weren’t happy. They acted. Dad sent her packing on a westbound train.

This first deleted scene comes prior to the official opening scene. It made it through nearly the final draft, when I determined to cut to the chase… Evelyn’s painful discussion with her father. This deleted scene immediately precedes it.

You may remember Allan Brandt demands of his daughter in his office, “Who is responsible for this travesty?”

The following, a deleted scene in whole, shows how her parents learned of her predicament.


New York City

May, 1881

Evelyn Brandt’s heart pounded with miserable anticipation and every second seemed to stretch into minutes. She smoothed the white lace coverlet on the bed where she lay. The exam had mortified her.

Doctor McKinstrey washed his hands at the basin then donned his finely tailored suit coat. He slid his gasses into the breast pocket. At last he turned his full attention on Evelyn’s parents who stood before the marble hearth.

The doctor’s refused to so much as look at her.

The roomy bedchamber seemed suddenly too close, stuffy, and airless. She wanted to kick off the covers. Or pull the sheet over her face and hide from the verdict and judgmental expressions of those gathered.

Her father, Allan Brandt, was well known for many things, but patience? Certainly not. “Well?” Worry creased his lined face.

“Your daughter—” Doc met Evelyn’s gaze, finally, his expression pungent with judgment.

Her heart sank.


She’d ignored the possibility, put it out of her mind, determined to ignore the likelihood.

Not her. She was a good girl. Obedient, careful, concerned about her family’s good name.

It couldn’t be.

“—is with child.” The doctor’s tone left no room for doubt—he did not approve. He found her character lacking and her morals woefully low.

Mother gasped. Evelyn felt Mama’s acute pain like a slap.

Her stomach roiled and her dehydrated head swam with dizziness. Please, don’t let me be sick. Not again. Not now.

The constant vomiting had brought the doctor to call in the first place. Losing Mary Beth to a ruptured appendix last year had turned their parents hypersensitive to any sign of illness or infection. Mother had heard of Evelyn’s persistent vomiting and sent for the doctor.

Father’s face reddened. He clutched the head of his cane so tightly his knuckles turned white. His cleanly shaved jaw clenched and his lips thinned. She’d seen this expression before: embarrassment. Disappointing her father hurt more than the realization that she was with child.

With child. Her dehydrated body flashed hot and then cold.

Ruined. Disgraced. Society would shun her, gossip, reject her out of hand. When word got out, her fallen state would be a societal death sentence in the form of a destroyed reputation. No worthy beau would seek her company. She’d altered her entire future that fateful afternoon, and not for the better.

The weight of the news crushed the breath from her lungs. Perspiration made her white cotton nightgown stick to her clammy skin.

On the bedroom mantle, the clock ticked slowly, so slowly. She forced her breathing to conform to the seconds as they clicked past… two seconds in… two seconds out.

What would become of her?

Mother’s cool fingers clasped Evelyn’s. She noted steely determination settle over Mama’s expression. “Well, this certainly changes things.”

Father cleared his throat. “Are you certain, Doctor McKinstrey?”


“No possibility otherwise?”

Evelyn’s face heated. A blush scorched its way from her chest up her throat. It seemed Father wished she were dying of an incurable malady rather than suffering a condition normal and healthy and curable—pregnancy.

To the Brandts, appearance mattered more than anything else.

“I do not need to caution you,” Father informed the doctor, “to keep this secret.”

McKinstrey clasped his hands behind his back. “Indeed not. Confidentiality is my bond.”


The Bride Lottery is a FREE Read with kindleunlimited

Another Deleted Scene: Marriage License Book Description Series Description NEW RELEASE: Opening Scene (The Drifter’s Proposal) FREE Peek Inside The Drifter’s Proposal: Cherry Pie Scene Pioneers’ Yellow Roses blooming on the Cartwright kitchen steps (and entire ‘cemetery scene’)

Kristin Holt | A Peek Inside Gideon's Secondhand Bride

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