Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dialogue In Post-Its

In addition to finding The Things I Anticipate Happening list for This World We Live In, I also found quite a number of post-its with potential dialogue or plot twists. I plopped all the post-its and scratch pad notes in my paper recycling bag, and then had a change of heart and pulled them out.

I scanned a few of them so you could see how many different pads I used (and marvel at my handwriting- my third grade teacher, who I adored, said I thought faster than I could write, which was true then and remains true even as my brain cells die their quick painless death).

I'm going to type all these scraps out. Some of them made it to the book, some suggested other dialogue, and some got dumped. Mostly, if you've read TW, you should be able to figure out who says what. And some aren't dialogue at all, so you won't have to do any figuring for those.

Okay. In no particular order, here they are (assuming I can read my own handwriting):

you didn't seem to react.
you don't know how I react, how I get up in the middle of the night and prayer for the souls of the people on the mounds.
But you didn't know about the people on the mound.
I pray for souls on mounds I've never seen. I'm an all inclusive prayer.

The Bearley boys, 2 harmless old brothers smelly and missing [?] of the teeth, sitting on a bench outside the post off [I crossed that out] someplace. Mom told us to be nice to them because they had Howell blood, same as she did. We teased her about them being her cousins until she pointed out they were ours too.

Divorce or not, I'll always be your father.
glorious uselessness of prom dresses
dance at your wedding
only teenage boys left are either my brothers or entering monasteries
suddenly understood why Matt had been so angry. In this world we live in, Dad wasn't going to be my father anymore.
(out west- separated)

Matt & Alex play chess. Alex beats him. Matt makes joke about losing his strength since Syl cut his hair. Alex finds it unfunny.
Matt warns Miranda not to get involved with Alex.

Mom is scared to go. Miranda volunteers to stay with her. Only then does Mom agree to go. Mom/Matt say no. Syl volunteers herself and Matt.

Whenever I've had a question I've turned to Matt. This time was no different. What's a safe town? Why do you ask? Matt

I'm an incurable optimist. Just call me Mikawber.
All right.
Later- Oh Makawber

I started to think I'd made up [I dunno- Alex maybe] a boy I'd given my heart to, because he wouldn't accept anything else.

I felt more on any single day than I had in all my 16 yrs.
Would we trade this world we live in
I'm not just a better person for having known Charlie. I'm a happier person.
Maybe I should have known life is fragile.

Who knows how many lies Syl has told Matt. Who knows how many Alex has told me.
Don't let me die alone.

I'll be at fault no matter how she dies. I might as well go to Hell for the right reason.

For me, at least, death is nothing more than nothing.
I learned even the easiest acts lead to the hardest consequences, that there's no sound more beautiful than that of a door opening.

Charlie had to be stopped.
He was upsetting the baby.

I've never met anyone like her. And I'm from New York.

Every day of your life there's been a tomorrow.
There's a world out there,
There are stars.
There's a tomorrow.

No 10 day forecasts- Radio only says what's happened, never warns you about what's going to happen.
Do Miranda/Alex go into town & find city hall is gone?
Easy for you- M says

It doesn't have to be faith in the church or even God, A says. Just believe in something. Believe in the power of people to solve their problems. Believe in tomorrow. Every day you've lived, there's been a tomorrow. You can believe in that.
There are stars/there are people/There's a tomorrow


Nora said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. It is interesting to see the process.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Nora-

It's been interesting for me too. Some of the post-its I kept nearby throughout the writing of TW, so I was familiar with them. Others I wrote and put down someplace and they were kind of a surprise when I rediscovered them.

The most interesting thing for me is how bad my handwriting is!

Megan said...

Hi Susan Pfeffer! My name is Megan and tomorrow (friday) I have book club. I had to pick a book and tomorrow I have to talk about it. I picked Life as we Knew it because it was my favorite book and it was so interesting! The only thing is, is that whenever I get up to talk in front of people I start to shake.. like crazy and I was wondering if you had any little facts or cool things I could use in my notes. Thanks!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Megan and thank you for picking Life As We Knew It to discuss with your bookclub.

I wrote a book a long time ago called What Do You Do When Your Mouth Won't Open about a girl who was scared of speaking in public. That's a problem I've never had- I'll speak anywhere to anybody.

It's been a long time since I read the book, but I think you're supposed to do deep breathing to relax yourself. Also pretend to yourself that your entire audience is wearing nothing but their underwear.

The most important thing I tell myself when I'm nervous before giving a talk is that the audience wants to like me. They're on my side and they'll be on yours.

Now let's see if I can give you something interesting to say about me. How about how I came up with the idea for Life As We Knew It... I was killing time one afternoon and since I had nothing better to do, I watched a movie on TV called Meteor. It starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood and they kept all humanity from dying by knocking a meteor out of whack, or something like that. Anyway, there were lots of special effects and the movie was pretty bad.

But when it finished, I asked myself what it would be like to be a teenager living through a worldwide disaster. My brain immediately got to work, and I spent several weeks working out who the teenager would be, who her family and friends were, where she lived, all that sort of thing. I also needed to come up with a disaster. Since I've always been intrigued by the fact the moon controls the tides, I explored what would happen if the moon moved a little closer to earth.

I think I'm the luckiest person ever. If I hadn't wasted time that afternoon, I never would have written LAWKI or the dead and the gone or This World We Live In, and my whole life would be no where near as wonderful as it is now!

I hope that helps. And I hope everyone you talk to looks great in their imaginary underwear!

Unknown said...

Woah. Chilling diologue. Really awesome chilling diologue. Thanks for sharing it and I think it's insanly cool how you wrote LAWKI. Thank you Meteor


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning Jon-

I keep meaning to find out who wrote Meteor and send them a thank you note (not that I would know how to find them to send the note).

It's disconcerting to me to realize how different my life would be if I hadn't watched that particular movie at that particular moment.

Life certainly is weird!

Nora said...

I am very excited. Life As We Knew It was chosen to be the book that our entire public library staff reads and discusses at our in-service meeting in August!
I am really looking forward to sharing this book I love with the rest of the staff.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Nora-

Thank you for that wonderful piece of news.

I hope you'll tell us how the August meeting goes (unless everyone hates LAWKI, in which case I hope you'll forget to tell us how the August meeting goes!).

donna said...

It is really interesting to see how the characters evolved. You seem to have considered various conflicts between characters.

I do wonder whether this will be the last book in this universe you intend to write. I have enjoyed the trials of the ordinary people. It might be fun to see how the safe towns have evolved. Whether NASA has considered a solution for retuning the moon. Even if they did return the moon, how would society recover?

So, my question, have you been jotting notes on new post its for the next book in this universe?

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Donna-

My brain (such as it is) has been occupied the past few months with Blood Wounds (which has two grocery list sized pages of dialogue still on the refrigerator), so I haven't given any real thought to a fourth book.

Which is a good thing, since my publisher hasn't indicated any interest in one!

Jean said...

Interesting process...


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Jean-

I think all processes are interesting (at least to the person doing the processing).

If I accomplish nothing else in life, I've helped keep the scratch pad and post-it note businesses in the black!

Kristin Morales said...

A.K.A Girl who didn't have the courage to type this before said...

I do the exact same thing, but I do it before I go to sleep and in the morning I can't process half the things I've written. It's a catch-on XD

TWWLI was amazing. The ending was great. It kinda left you hanging but you knew it was over, in the diary way. Thanks for writing such an interesting trilogy :) It inspired me.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning Kristin Morales-

You should never be nervous about posting here. I am, generally speaking, a sweet and friendly person (and specifically speaking, everyone else who posts here is a sweet and friendly person).

I used to keep a pad by my bed for those late night inspirations, but they tended to be incoherent when I checked them out in the morning. And I've never been good about keeping a pad with me in my pocketbook.

I did once write the ending of a book while I was driving, which fortunately, wasn't the ending of me.

There's no way of knowing where a line of dialogue or a bit of characterization will show up. And the risk of forgetting is always with us!

Kristin Morales said...

(That's good encouragement, thank you. I've always been shy and everything. It was just nerve racking to talk to the author of one of the books I adored with my friend! )

It is a good idea to write down bits of conversations and ideas while going on with daily life, as long as you're not in danger like you brought up! I think it adds more realism to a story because it's based off motivation from real life.

(I wrote down bits of a story last night, and I still can't understand my handwriting XD)