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Posts Tagged ‘revisions’

If you saw me at any of my recent events, you may have heard me admit that the first draft of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things weighed in at a hefty 200,000 words. Nearly 80,000 words more than the final, published version.

So what became of those roughly 300 pages that I whittled off? I’ve been saving them in a file called Lost Scenes. What’s in there? All the stuff I wrote that just never quite had a place in the book. Some of it I was sad to cut. Some of it I knew I wouldn’t be able to use, even as I wrote it.

How can you get your hands on those deleted scenes?

I’m sending them out to my newsletter subscribers, so step one: sign up for my newsletter.

I’ll be sending out deleted scenes as I hit certain review numbers on Goodreads and Amazon. (Darn it! There is a catch.) So step two: leave me a review, please. I’ll send out the first deleted scene when ATUAWT hits 1,000 reviews on Goodreads, another when it hits 200 reviews on Amazon, and another if it hits 50 reviews on Barnes & Noble.

Basically, the more reviews I have, the happier my publisher is, and the happier my publisher is, the more likely they are to want to buy another book from me. I believe that’s a win-win, if you enjoyed ATUAWT.

If you’ve already done steps 1 and 2, and you’re killing time, you can also vote in this poll to help decide which scenes I send out first. You can vote for up to three.

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I’m in the midst of working on a revision of Thirteen for an agent, which has left me with a few blanks that need filling in. This is a scene I wrote over the weekend to try to fill one of those gaps.

***

I closed the door in Renee’s face, but she opened it back up. We glared at each until she said, “You’re a coward, Wavy Quinn.”

In sixth grade I was too old to fall for that trick. I was still too old. I flipped her off and reached for the door knob, but Renee held her ground.

“You say you’re done with Kellen, but then you’re not even brave enough to go on a date with anyone else. And you can pretend that you’re not ready or whatever, but the truth is, you’re not brave enough.” She said it all in a low voice, so I knew Joshua was still in the front room, waiting for me to go on a date I was sure I’d never agreed to.

“Pot calling kettle,” I said.

“That is such bullshit. Show me one time I was a coward about love.”

She thought she was bulletproof. She thought recklessness was the same thing as bravery. I stepped past her into the hall and walked toward the kitchen. Renee came after me.

In the front room, we passed Joshua, who looked confused. Not a Kellen kind of confused, where he was always worried he’d misunderstood or done or said something wrong. A pretty college boy kind of confused, where he thought someone else had made a mistake.

I stopped in front of the fridge and Renee was under such a head of steam that she bumped into my back when I did.

“You can’t just walk away from this. You can’t spend your whole life pining for someone who doesn’t even want you.”

I ignored that. It wasn’t anything I could bear to think about.

The napkin with Darrin’s phone number was right where Renee had put it. At the party, she took it from him with a smile and said, “Yeah, I’d love to go out.” Two weeks later it was still stuck to the fridge. She hadn’t called him. He wasn’t her type. He was a custodian and he wasn’t pretty. Not like Joshua. The other reason he wasn’t her type: he was too nice. Not enough drama. Not enough heartbreak.

I jerked the napkin off the fridge, sending the magnet flying. When I pinned the napkin to Renee’s chest with my forefinger, she made a surprised little O with her mouth.

“Coward,” I said.

She smirked.

“Fine. You go out with Joshua and I’ll call Darrin. Deal?”

“Deal.”

“And you have to try, Wavy. You can’t just sit there like stone until he gives up. You have to try like it’s a real date or it doesn’t count.” Renee knew me.

I passed Joshua on the way back to my room to get my purse.

“Is there a problem?” he said.

I didn’t bother to answer. He was the problem. I’d be done with him soon enough. I came back with my purse and stood in front of him. He was going to have take me as I was, in the clothes I wore to work and with my hair a little greasy.

“Ready,” I said.

We walked out past Renee, who gave me a suspicious look. She could suspect whatever she wanted, as long as she kept her half of the deal.

 

***

While Joshua drove, I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. Renee said he was “gorgeous.” She talked about him like he was a statue. David standing naked in a museum in Italy. I thought he was boring. Like a mannequin in a store. Better to look at a blank wall than to look at him. I also didn’t understand why he didn’t shave. Everything else about him was neat — hair, hands, clothes–and then the whiskers.

He took me to a nice restaurant, I guess because that’s what people do on dates. I’d taken Kellen to a restaurant before, but it was how I knew we were here on the strength of Joshua’s ego. I never would have agreed to go out to eat with someone who was basically a stranger. Never.

But there I was, sitting across from him, with a menu open, watching him talk. That was how it felt, too. A silent movie, his mouth opening and closing, his teeth neat and white, but no sound coming out. I could only focus on some of the things he said. The rest of me was too busy cataloging the ways in which he wasn’t Kellen.

“So, what are you thinking of having?” Joshua said.

“I’m not that hungry.”

He laughed. “Girls always say that.”

I could imagine Renee saying that. On dates, she ordered salads and then came home starving and ate a whole pizza by herself.

At least I liked the restaurant. Aunt Brenda had taken me there before. They had good teriyaki chicken with ginger and pineapple, and they put your leftovers in nice to-go containers. Not crappy Styrofoam boxes. They made it pretty when you took it away.

After I closed my menu the waiter came. I gave him my big smile, to make him pay attention, so that he would look at my menu when I tapped it. You really don’t have to talk much in everyday life. If you’re careful, if you learn the tricks to make people watch. That way you can save your words for important things. Sometimes just “yes” or “no.” Or “ranch” when the waiter wants to know what dressing I want on my salad. Which I didn’t want. I shook my head.

“No dressing?” the waiter said.

Then Joshua ordered and the waiter left us alone.

“So, Wavy,” Joshua said. His teeth really were perfect. He probably had braces when he was younger. “I think your name is so cool. Kind of hippy, but not like Moon Unit or something like that.”

It was a good thing I didn’t talk much, because what was I supposed to say to that? I’m glad you like my name. The man I love gave it to me. That probably wasn’t good date conversation. That was just me being impossible. Aunt Brenda said that about me. So did Renee some days. You’re impossible! I agreed. Most days I was impossible. Like a unicorn.

 

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As I’ve mentioned more than a few times, I’m a pantser. Stories tend to fall together in random pieces for me, and I work them out like a mosaic. I’ve never successfully created a story out of a linear plan. So having to create an outline for possible revisions of Ugly and the Beast, well, it involves a lot more writing than you might expect from an outline. Basically, in order to figure out what happens next in this outline, I have to write it. Not a full-blown draft, but rough sketches, snatches of conversation, a few images. Something to help my brain understand what’s happening.

Today’s Teaser is a product of this process. How I produce two sentences in an outline looks like this:

***

When we come up over the hill, I seen why all the folks down by the river said we oughtta steer clear of the place. It was fucked up. Like where a tornado comes in and flattens a whole town. Or like them pictures you see of when we nuked the Japs. There wasn’t not one building still standing didn’t look like it hadn’t been shot up, blowed up, or stomped on by Godzilla.

Annihilated

The whole city was that way, big as Dallas by my guess. Miles and miles of jacked up shit, as far as I could see looking down from that hill. Maybe there wasn’t no dragon, but whatever had happened was some kinda serious bad. And whatever it was hadn’t happened real recent either. There was grass growing in the streets and trees coming up outta buildings. I could see how in maybe another twenty years, it’d be fields and woods with bricks poking out of it.

The whole way, as we come down what’d been a big highway, Shona cried and left this trail of sparks behind her. I didn’t care much except as we got further into the city, I could tell people lived there, and I wasn’t crazy about folks seeing her sparks. Nobody come out to talk to us or nothing, but there was little gardens and what looked like rain barrels and tools. The people was either hiding from whatever had did that to the city, or they didn’t wanna be around a filthy fecking crosser like me.

The crying was getting to me so I grabbed Shona’s arm and gave her a shake.

“What the fuck’s your problem?”

“I–I destroyed this. All this,” she said. Leaned into me like she didn’t mind me holding onto her arm.

“Yeah, you and what army?”

“I and my sisters.”

“Your sisters must pack some heavy fire power then, ’cause you wouldn’t hardly kill a mosquito if it was biting you.”

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With great opportunities come big headaches.  After many months with no real movement on the submission front, my hard-working agent has hooked me up with Cool Editor at Big Name Publisher. It’s not a sale, and perhaps never will be, hence the pseudonymous references, but it’s an opportunity.

The Cool Editor loves Axyl. Who doesn’t? Well, plenty of editors didn’t fall in love with him, but Cool Editor, being cooler than most, did. Problem: she didn’t exactly fall in love with the story.

So I’m in revisions. I have some rough notes from Editor and Agent, and a pile of random ideas of my own. From that, I am supposed to be building an outline of the proposed revisions. I am, always have been, and likely always will be, an inveterate pantser. I don’t outline. I’m not sure if I’m capable of outlining in the strictest sense.

Oh, I can write an outline, but the problem is, I have to write the story first. So in essence, I’m doing a rough draft of the revisions, from which I will then craft an outline, which may or may not be exactly what Ms. Cool Editor is looking for.

The real obstacle, though, has been taking a story that’s already written, one I’d pretty much seen as “done,” and re-writing it. Not just editing it, but having to say, “You know, what, that’s not what really happened. Here’s what really happened.” Because that’s how my brain works. After a story is written, it becomes True in my head. My brain is in revolt over the notion that X, Y, and Z are no longer facts within the story. I must crush out the old Truth and supplant it with a new one. What Axyl does in Chapter 20 is irrelevant if Chapter 20 is deleted. It won’t change how he sees the world in Chapter 30, because it never happened.

This is hard. It feels like trying to write a novel on the wings of gnats, one word per wing, two words per gnat. After using a very fine marker to ink the words on, I set the gnat free to swarm with his mates and thus my new story grows.

First step: catch a gnat.

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