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Echoes of unseen chapters (on re-reading No Good Deed)

So after finishing my re-read No Good Deed, I realized that, aside from the numerous smaller* issues (typos, underscores, etc.), I feel very excited on two fronts. First, I’m still very happy with the story, which was a hanging question for me, going in. Second, I’m even more excited to get into book 3, though I’m still going to wait until I finish Hell Hath No Fury (which I started last night and expect to finish later this week).

My main ‘learning’ from this re-read, though, was a fairly simple one: I need to pay even more attention to the final draft to nail down any loose grammatical/mechanical issues. Given how much time had passed between finishing NGD and publishing it, I should certainly have done a full read through beforehand. I’m sure I may still have missed some items, but they would be few and far between.

I also noticed, which I had forgotten in the intervening years, how much I had left out of the final draft. Much of it was introductory material which I am the first to admit made for a slower start–

Slower than it already is? some of you may be wondering incredulously.

Yes, even slower.  The decision to forego them was certainly the correct choice, but while part of me still mourns their loss  (I suppose they’d be DVD extras, if this were a movie), these absent scenes actually make themselves felt throughout the book,  reminding me of something I’d heard at my first Readercon and taken to heart: some major author (I’ve forgotten who, now) always wrote at least one chapter for every book that he knew was never going to find its way into the final draft. That chapter always contained some key thread, realization or other theme of the story that, while it was never directly revealed, lay under the rest of the story like a grounding wire.

In No Good Deed, the most obvious example is Kelly’s downsizing. I wrote that scene completely and it survived through several drafts, but after I decided to remove it to speed the story along, I forgot how much the details of that scene (co-workers, memories, etc.) had bled into the rest of the story, broadening the world and ‘reality’ of Kelly’s story implicitly, rather than explicitly.

At least, that’s the hope.

Now, though, on to Hell Hath No Fury!

* This is an extremely relative term, mind you, because in my mind they are all huge gaffes and major embarrassment factors which made me cringe each time — but I also tend to obsess about whether to use the word ‘on’ instead of ‘upon’. So, like I said, it’s all relative.

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