Alternatives

Alternative options seem to be the theme recently. Yesterday my wife and I were talking about the Deadline project, and even though she hadn’t yet seen any of it, I’ve discussed some parts of it with her. So she was telling me an idea she had for the way the book should end. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but it did put the thought in my head that maybe I should write two endings to the book to see how they fit (hey, I recently saw where the DVD of 28 Days Later has not one, not two, but three alternate endings on it – guess the director couldn’t make up his mind how to end the tale).

Lest you think I’m blindly following what my wife says because she’s my wife – she has great editorial instincts. It’s my contention that she could have been a brilliant book buyer and editor. But she’s told me she would have hated that kind of work.

Here’s an example of her instincts at work. As I have mentioned, she reads most of my manuscripts chapter by chapter as they are written. When I was working on A Death of Honor, she made a comment to me after reading one of the early chapters: “I think Trinina is an interesting character. I can’t wait to see what you do with her.”

Indeed. What she had read was the only scene I planned for Trinina to be in. But after that comment I started thinking about Trinina and how she fit into Payne’s complacent little world, and well, it wasn’t long before she showed up at his doorstep, looking for help after having done something very, very illegal. It put a real complication in Payne’s life, moreso than what was already happening to it, and A Death of Honor was a much better novel for it.

That’s why I trust my wife’s instincts. That’s why I’m thinking about writing two sets of last chapters for Deadline.

Meantime, today I also thought of an alternate title for And/News. You’ve probably already deduced that And/News is my writer’s superstition name I’m using for this project (it was my original title for this book). I have another title I plan to market the book under, but if there are problems with that – there is a non-fiction book with the same title – then I thought I ought to be prepared. If a problem comes up, I guess I could revert to …and that’s the end of the news; but I really liked this alternative title. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t pay off until the last chapter – although it could work.

Maybe I’m worrying for naught. But it helps to be prepared. A Death of Honor was originally titled Amendment XXXI, but DelRey asked for it to be changed because, as my editor said, “it sounds too political.” I racked my brain to come up with a title and came up with a bunch of losers. I decided to come back to it and sat down with my son at the kitchen table and started playing with Play-Doh. A Death of Honor came to me about a minute later. And I had to come up with Handling It… as an “all encompassing series title” for the Science Fiction Book Club. So there is precedent.

Thus were today’s distractions. Now onto business:

Today’s Scorecard
Deadline – Chapter Five
174 pages (+6)
19,488 words (+ 672)*

And/News – Chapter Twenty
667 pages (+7)
146,922 words (+2700)**

NP – iTSP (Ben Folds Five, “Underground”)

*Word count for Deadline is approximate – the project is being written by hand.

**Today’s word count is inflated by about 1,000 words due to cut-and-pasting from the Reconciled Outline.

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