Yesterday, while spring cleaning, I discovered three pages of pre-writing notes for This World We Live In. The third of the pages is a post-facto outline of Life As We Knew It. Apparently (since I have no memory of doing any of this), I wanted to make sure there was enough material for TW by figuring out how many incidents there were in LAWKI.
I remember where I was (Storm King Arts Center) when I came up with the idea of having Lisa kill Charlie at the end of TW. Since there's no Charlie in this outline, this version must predate that.
My handwriting has never been good, but the older I get, the worse it gets, so I'll type the TW material for anyone who is interested in reading it. I suppose it could be qualified as spoiler, so if you haven't read TW yet, and do intend to, and don't want to know what doesn't for the most part happen, then avert your eyes.
Easter Apr. 16
Things I anticipate happening
1 Dad, Lisa, Julie, baby, boy show up
2 Big fight- Matt & Lisa
3 Big fight- Dad & Matt
4 Trip to FAF house. Julie stays/goes
5 Tornado- Mrs. Nesbitt's house destroyed
6 Breaking into people's houses- minister's house (?)- finding food cache
7 Fishing scene
8 Anniversary date
9 Miranda spends first night alone in room
10 Food deliveries stop
11 Relationship with Dan's father- he comes over for dinner- he dies and leaves his food to Miranda
12 At food delivery, ask what's going on-
group studies at someone's house
Sat- soccer match
help with food distribution
13 At one place, Miranda is given clothes including prom dress of girl who was married off
14 At one place, most likely soccer
someone drops dead
15 basement floods- Matt collapses face down in flooded basement. M pulls his head out-
she & Jon get him upstairs
Matt refuses to regard himself as invalid, but M is terrified he's going to die- then soccer
A couple of things might call for explanation. I used the same calendar for Life As We Knew It, the dead and the gone, and This World We Live In (2005-06, I think), and I wanted to make sure TW took place after Easter. So I wrote down the date of Easter so I'd know to begin the action after that.
It took me a little while yesterday to figure out what FAF was, and then I broke my own code. It's Fresh Air Fund. I had put into d&g that the Morales family had been Fresh Air Fund kids (for those unfamiliar with the Fresh Air Fund, it's a New York City group that provides summer vacations in the country for city kids). When I was working out d&g, I had thought it possible that whichever of the Morales kids survived, might end up going to their Fresh Air Fund family, and that family might live fairly close to Miranda and her family.
Todd Strasser was the one who suggested fishing for shad to me, and I guess I intended to have Miranda go on the fishing trip. I don't fish and have no interest in learning about it, which is why I sent Matt and Jon off without her.
About half a dozen of the possible plot points end up in some form or another in TW. What really intrigues me about this outline is the complete lack of Alex. I bring in a boy with Dad and Lisa and Julie, but I don't give who he is or what he does any thought at all. I do have a vague recollection of trying to work Dan's father into the story. Dan left during LAWKI, and his mother had been ill, so I guess I killed her off between books, and Miranda somehow bumps into Dan's father, and they establish a bond.
In its way, this is a much jollier version of TW than the one I ended up writing. It's far more social. Dan's father comes for dinner, people (presumably Miranda and Jon and other kids their age) study outside of their home, Miranda helps distribute food, she's given clothes, and there's a soccer game. As far as prom dresses go, I had a second version of that on a post-it for a while. Dad, Miranda, Julie and maybe Alex, spend a night at a deserted shopping mall, and Miranda tries on prom dresses. I figured people would ransack shopping malls but would be unlikely to take prom dresses. I pictured Miranda and Dad dancing in the mall, so maybe Alex and Julie weren't there. In which case, I have no idea why Miranda and Dad were.
The one theme which is constant both in this outline and in the final version of TW is how to get food. Feeding the characters was a constant concern for me in all three books. There had to be enough food so that they didn't starve to death but no guarantee that there'd be any food in a day or two. But the books couldn't be continuous lists of what food there was and what food they dreamed of. Five of the fourteen things I list are food related, which probably is about the same percentage as ended up in the real TW.
It was fun for me to find these pages and a real inspiration to keep on with the spring cleaning. Who knows what other treasures I'll dig up. Stock certificates. Winning lottery tickets. A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!