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Who else devoured Turtles All The Way Down on release day? The iBooks store releases pre-orders at midnight Atlantic time, so I read most it the night before. It’s a riveting store with a touch of mystery, a lot of friendship, and a realistic display of anxiety.
The first draft was rather different.
Earlier today I heard John Green read two deleted scenes from Turtles All The Way Down, thanks to a donation to the Project 4 Awesome. John starts by saying the first draft was more of a detective story. Aza and her friend Daisy were investigating Davis’ father and his disappearance, along with finding an online troll harassing Daisy via her fanfic sites. The first turned into a subplot, and the latter is only hinted at.
John offered the scenes and an audio commentary as a Project 4 Awesome reward. It’s an amazing fundraiser that you need to check out and support, but we’re talking about deleted scenes now. Cutting these two scenes was the right thing to do. The first short one added a little character personality but little else. The other is weird. John even quotes his brother, Hank, in the commentary saying you often need to write a bad version to write a good one. It’s true for Turtles All The Way Down. Sure, an attempted mugging and subsequent car chase would look hilarious but didn’t add to the story. John found another way to lead to the car accident and the symbolism of Aza’s car.
So I want to make this a thank you to editors. The ones who look at our favorite novels and ask the hard questions. The questions that may reduce authors to tears, but make a better book. John added commentary and sounded embarrassed reading some of the second scene. I got the idea that many ideas were they seemed like a good idea at the time. He was picking holes in his own work, which is difficult to do in the middle of a writing project.
And of course, thank you to John Green for sharing these snippets of the first draft.
The Turtles All The Way Down Deleted Scenes
I’m sure you’re asking yourself what the deleted scenes are. These won’t make much sense if you haven’t read Turtles All The Way Down.
The first is a quick snapshot of Aza and Daisy studying together. Well, Aza is studying, and Daisy is writing fanfic. Aza asks Daisy how is she, and at first Daisy gives the automatic “I’m good” we’re conditioned to give. Then she pauses and says, (paraphrased) “I feel like being on the internet is a form of low-level constant assault.”
Next is the one John commentated with “I really thought this was good when I wrote this.” Aza is dropping Daisy at work. There are 20 minutes before the Chuck E Cheese shift starts, so Daisy invites Aza for a quick skeeball game. Aza gets into her groove and doesn’t notice a man come to stand close next to her. He has a gun and suggests they take a walk outside. Aza sees Holly, their Applebee’s waitress to the side. The gunman is with her. Aza runs to the kitchen, and a weird chase occurs which includes germ-phobic Aza escaping in the Chuck E Bear costume. Of which John dedicates seven paragraphs and the Chuck E dance. They make it to the car with Aza stripping off the costume while racing across the parking lot, for the car chase that ends with the accident.