Monday, February 9, 2009

Writing And Rewriting B3

I've written a poem.

The term B3
Means spoiler to me
So if you don't like spoilers
Put on your tin foilers.

And now you know why all 75 of my books are in prose.

I spent much of the weekend working through a problem I had with This World We Live In. Have I mentioned this is a very tricky book to write? Wait, I feel another poem coming on.

B3 is very tricky to write.
But it will be an editor's delight.

What a shame that people who don't want to read spoilers will be missing out on such brilliant verse.

Among the reasons why B3 is so tricky is because I have to be honest about what I've already written in Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone without revealing too much about either of those books. I've already discussed the Mami/Papi issue, but now I'm coping with the passes to the safe town that Alex has.

I can't pretend those passes don't exist. In fact, it's completely my fault Alex has them with him. I remember contacting my editor after the manuscript had been rewritten and saying we had to put in something about Alex taking the passes with him at the very end of d&g. That was because I had a completely different third book in mind, one where the passes were a major part of the plot.

But in this B3, they aren't really a major part, or they haven't been until page 220 or so. Still, I can't leave them out, because if I do, someone who's read d&g will say, "Well, why doesn't Alex use his safe passes? I distinctly remember him taking them with him at the end of d&g." So they have to be worked into the plot, without my saying how Alex got them (because there will be people who read B3 without having read d&g and will then go back to read d&g, and won't they be surprised to discover Alex has a whole other sister, because I don't mention Bri at all in B3).

Frankly, I needed an explanation why Alex wasn't using the passes, so I decided it's one thing to have passes to a safe town and quite another to know where a safe town is. Alex, Bri and Julie were going to take a bus to one, but they didn't know where the bus was going. And safe town locations, I figure, are kept pretty quiet, since they don't want riffraff like you and me showing up. Although since I created them, they should let me in. I could be the Safe Town Poet Laureate.

Thus the passes had to be mentioned, safe towns had to be explained, and locations had to be located. All of which I did at the end of last week, but unfortunately, I left myself with a minor plot issue, which I spent a merry weekend working out.

Alas, one minor plot issue involved chucking about ten pages of manuscript and rewriting same today. Where once I was on page 235, now I'm on page 233. But the problem is solved and the book is tighter.

Something I've discovered from doing these while I go along rewrites is every third word in the manuscript is "just." When I eliminate all those justs, the book will probably be 123 pages long, and how the editor will love it.

While it's true I could write another scene today (and get the book back to 235 pages), I think I'll stop until tomorrow, when I absolutely swear I'll get a whole bunch more written. In the meantime, I'm going to move this entry over to thirdmoonbook, and put there the scene between Miranda and Syl where Miranda learns that Syl knows where a safe town is. There are two versions, the one from last week and the far better one I wrote today, so it'll be a nice compare and contrast for those who are interested. And for those of you who aren't, I'll end here with a poem.

Le sigh

And goodbye


Anonymous said...

The "safe town" concept you came up with dovetailed with some thoughts I'd had about a possible B4 -- entire towns becoming research facilities, with an entire city under martial law. Interesting.

Anonymous Santa Fe

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous Santa Fe-

I think your B4 idea (and my publisher would shudder at the very number) was one of my B3s.

There've been so many, it's hard to remember!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you resolved the safe pass issue. I was going to suggest that they get stolen, which solves your safe pass problem but might create new problems with page count. :D

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Heather T, who is taking me away from my work (oh thank you, thank you)-

I think the safe town pass issue is resolved, or at least Miranda thinks so (there are still a few plot twists ahead).

I'm on page 240 or thereabouts, with some really major time consuming stuff still ahead, so I'm figuring, as I have been from the getgo, that the manuscript will run around 300 pages. That's actually a little shorter than LAWKI and d&g, but this is a denser book; it takes place over only three months or so.

I just hope it takes me less than 3months to write, because I don't know how much more energy I can expend avoiding work.