Friday, January 30, 2009

The Past Is Prologue In B3

This post is all spoilers, including a great many about the dead and the gone. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I've been hard at work (and avoiding work) on This World We Live In all week long. Well, all week except today,when I decided I was so on schedule I could take a long weekend. Except next week, my schedule is going to go kaput all over again, between meeting Todd Strasser for a late lunch on Tuesday, and subbing at my volunteer work on Wednesday, and watching the Four Continents figure skating competition Wednesday through Saturday. So maybe it's a mistake to take today off, but it's too late now. Besides, I need to clean the apartment.

But I must be getting work done. See how much bigger the pile of manuscript is than it was a week ago? I'm on page 195, in spite of all my dawdling.

If you examine the picture with the polar bear, you'll notice there's a copy of Life As We Knew It sitting on the printer. But the picture on the right has a copy of the dead and the gone hiding the paperback LAWKI. This accidental visual is proof that Alex and Julie have shown up in B3, and I need to refer fairly regularly to d&g, to make sure I get my facts straight.

Here's more proof- the poll on the right (and thank you everyone who has taken the time to vote). I needed to know whether readers had doubts when reading d&g about the fate of Alex's parents and now, thanks to you, I know.

B3 has some very specific problems because it's a sequel to two different books. I'd been figuring on people who've read both books reading it, but what I hadn't thought about was people who've read LAWKI reading it and then going back to read d&g. I'd decided early on to limit references to LAWKI characters who weren't going to show up in B3. There's no mention of Megan or Sammi or Dan, but that's because it's Miranda's diary and she wouldn't feel the need to explain who those people were, and since there could be readers who wouldn't know, the characters were better left unmentioned.

But Miranda doesn't know anything about Alex and Julie, so any information she learns about them would go smack in her diary.

Here's where I first realized I had a problem. I wrote a scene between Alex and Miranda, where Alex has opened up, at least a little, to her:

But mostly I felt grateful to Alex, even though there was no way he could know how much his comment meant to me.

So I tried to show him by letting him know I cared about him and Julie. "What about your parents?" I asked. "What happened to them?"

He turned into a different person. No, that's not right. He turned back to the Alex I've known for the past week, not the Alex of the past few hours. "They're gone," he said, and his voice was as cold as a January night.

Nice, right? Except what about all the people who are going to go from LAWKI to B3 and then back to d&g? Talk about spoilers. If there's a chance any readers could read d&g in its entirety, not being sure what happened to Mami and Papi, then I'd be killing all that suspense for a little bit of dialogue.

So I read the poll results, and I threw the dialogue away. Now, Miranda remains grateful, but Alex asks her a question instead.*

There's actually a chance most writers don't do rewrites based on poll results on their blogs. Silly them.

I'm currently dealing with the question of the passes into the safe town that Alex is given in d&g. Actually, answering that question (and cleaning my apartment) is pretty much the reason why I'm not doing any writing until Monday. I can justify Alex not using the pass to get Julie to a safe place, but once it becomes public (i.e. Miranda's family learns about it), I have to know which characters might end up going there, and when. Alex has three passes, and the only thing (I think) I wrote about them is that dependents have to be under the age of 18. But originally, Mr. Flynn (who gave Alex the passes) was going to use them for his wife and two kids, which means the passes can be used by adults. And what I just this second realized is Mr. Flynn's daughter is in college, so she's probably over 18. What I must have meant was that dependents getting onto the bus convoy had to be under 18 (I can't believe that with all the people who edited and copy edited d&g, no one picked up on that).

Back to B3. Assuming one pass is used by Julie, could the other two passes be used by Dad and Lisa? Or would Gabriel the baby (previously known as Baby Rachel) be counted as a person, in which case the passes could only be used by Julie, Lisa, and Gabriel. Would Lisa agree to go if it means being separated from Dad? And now that I've remembered about Mr. Flynn's daughter, I have to decide if Alex would use one of the passes for himself.

You know something. I don't have the answers to those questions yet. To be multilingual about it, le oy.

By Monday morning though, I'm sure I'll know, and nobody is going to know about those passes except Alex and Julie and me, until the very end of next week, or maybe the week thereafter. And I enjoy solving these kinds of problems.

Or at least that's what I'll tell myself while I'm dusting and vacuuming!

*To read that question, go to thirdmoonbook.


PiLibrarian said...

So, did I miss something in d&g? because I don't remember there ever being any absolute proof that Mami & Papi are dead. So if Alex says "They're gone," that's just what he believes (and what I believe but don't know for sure) They could conceivable show up someday (hey! the reliable amnesia plot twist!). That doesn't seem like giving away the ending to me at all.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi PiLibrarian-

Having Alex tell Miranda that his parents are gone means they never show up during d&g, which readers new to the book wouldn't know.

It took me a while to realize that, but it would qualifiy as a spoiler.

We must protect the innocent. Especially those who place their hopes in amnesia!

Anonymous said...

I read the conversation between Alex and Miranda, and it made me wonder: is this a bit of foreshadowing? Miranda hasn't been hit by a family member so far -- but would something happen to change that later on in the book? That's what popped into my head reading it.

Anonymous Santa Fe

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning Anonymous Santa Fe-

My internet connection is feeling really crabby this morning (I'm feeling fine, so don't worry). I just responded to your comment, pressed the merry Publish button, and the comment vanished. And it was a pretty good comment too.

Anyway, what I sort of wrote just now was how impressed I was with the concept of foreshadowing, which I haven't been thinking of in B3, but I have been thinking in terms of echoes, which I decided was actually postshadowing.

Then I said that I was pretty sure I was sticking to my original B3 outline, although I couldn't be positive, since I haven't read the outline since I posted it at thirdmoonbook, and that as of the moment none of the original LAWKI family members were scheduled to die.

And then I rhapsodized about my word verification du jour- talinsax.

I'll press Publish again, and see what happens. Wish me luck!

Maryann said...

Miss Pfeffer,
Thank you so much for writing another book!