This week, I did two big book-related things: I picked up my AUT copy edits from Francoise, and I scanned a bunch of pages from my AUT notebook because I plan to post them on my website as hidden content. I’ve been going through my notebook and my copy edits almost simultaneously, and the comparison is so ridiculous. On the one hand, so much has changed, but on the other, so much has stayed the same, through countless drafts and critiques and revisions and editorial interventions.

3444607165_8a97879fd52AUT is the book where I really discovered the method that works best for me when preparing to write a novel, so there’s a lot of notes in there because I tried a lot of different things to organize my thoughts about the plot and characters (mostly the plot; this book was a tangle for a long time, which is why I was way more steadfast when planning Murder Burger). There are all kinds of abandoned outlines in there, for one thing. I could just never get up the patience to outline the whole damn book, which I now see could have cut my work in half.

Despite the fact that I was trying to write a mystery, which is pretty complicated, most of the notes in my notebook are about my characters, not my plot. Each of the three main characters (plus a few second-tier characters) has a character profile, which tells me what they look like, what they’re like intellectually, and what they’re like emotionally. Rereading these sections now, I can see how the characters have developed in some ways and gone beyond what I originally conceived for them. A good example of this is Neily; at first, apparently, I saw his near-isolation at school as a character trait in and of itself, something he purposefully engineered, but now I feel like it’s the consequence of loneliness begetting loneliness, shyness, insecurity, and, when the book actually begins in present time, woundedness. Even then, though, his “emotional” entry is all about Carly. OBVS.

The most work I had to do was on Audrey, because she didn’t exist in the first version of All Unquiet Things. Neily and Carly are largely unchanged from that version, except that they are even more fleshed out as characters and their personalities changed inasmuch as their circumstances changed, but Audrey was a blank slate. At first, I had all kinds of quirks planned for Audrey–I remember that there was going to be a scene in which Neily discovers that she always carries around three or four ChapsSticks in different flavors. According to her character profile, she always wears earrings and her hair is cropped short. That didn’t make it into the book, but it’s interesting to see that at one time I thought it mattered enough to write it down.

I’m excited to put these scans up on my website because it’s one thing to describe your process to interested parties, but it’s quite another thing for people to see how you did what you did, sloppy handwriting and stained pages and everything. The first pages will probably go up next week sometime, and I hope people enjoy them.

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