three revisions

Draft 1 was “getting a story down”. It ran to 160,000 words.

Draft 2 was “fixing the huge plot holes, filling in missing bits, making the bad writing decent.” It ran to 220,000 words.

Draft 3 (in progress) is “improve characterization, flow, pacing…and make the decent writing better”. It will probably be 250,000 words by the time it’s done.

It’s been a while since I’ve given a before and after comparison, so here we go again.

Note:

  • stupid errors have been fixed
  • plot has been changed a bit: it’s no longer Leroy Fournier masquerading as the whistle-blower Jamie, it’s now a PI he’s hired.
  • characterization has been improved: in the first version we don’t get much of a feel for the characters
  • sentence flow has – I hope – been improved. It’s less wince-inducing, and reads more like a “real” book.

Draft 1 (March 2011):

== 25 may 2064, Cheap-n-Clean Apartments, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside

Jamie tugged lightly the knees of his pants as he sat down in the chair. “There are lots of stories you could cover, but let me ask you: which ones are most interesting?”

Jamie Matteo, who introduced himself as “Jamie Matteo”, an equipment repair engineer at a small construction sub contractor, took the college kids back to “his” apartment – a small studio apartment in a three story concrete block of small apartments that lined one side of a tunnel, opposite it’s clone on the other side. The apartment was outfitted with dumpy furniture and shelving made from discarded shipping boxes for acetylene tanks – the padding roughly ripped out, but small bits still remaining stuck to the glue here and there.

Allyson immediately blurted out “Unsafe foods.”

Jamie nodded “Yes, foods are an issue…but I think that there are bigger fish to fry. Food’s just one part of the social justice problems here, as I’m sure you know. Unsafe work conditions, lack of regulation, systemic racial discrimination, no job-training…I think if you approach it from an economic perspective, the story hangs together much better.”

Louisa straightened up on the couch. “Say that we want to investigate the nexus of no economic planning and no safety regulations…we really want to show the chaos that this lack of responsible oversight creates…and, for a human angle, we want to show the harm to people – maimed workers.” Louisa paused. “English speaking, and with good video presence. Kids, women, maybe an old Asian man. Hispanics, Africans – they don’t get the same results.”

Jamie folded his hands. “I can definitely get you some good maimed workers…but we both know the real story is the lack of planning, the chaos-“

Louisa nodded. She was thrilled. Jamie GOT it. “Absolutely.” She leaned forward.

“Now, here’s the thing – ‘follow the money’ – am I right? The unsafe labor, the radical extremist lack of planning, the flouting of the ITIER export code – these things are seperate. They’re all part of a conspiracy…a master plan.” Jamie sat back, his hook baited.

Hugh started to ask “Who -?” but Louisa cut him off. “Tell us!”

“It all tracks back to a small cabal of plutocrats who pull the strings. Have you heard of RUPA?”

Louisa shook her head.

“The CEO Trials?”

Louisa nodded. “Yes! I’ve heard of them!”.

“Look up the details on the CEO Trials. Go through the list of RUPA violators – that’s the Racketeering and Unjust Profits Act. You’re going to see a lot of names. …and then look around here.” Jamie gestured to include all of Aristillus.

Louisa’s eyes blazed. “Don’t hold out – tell us!”

Jamie smiled and sat back, stretching out the pause, longer and longer. Finally he spoke.

“Mike Martin.”

Louisa waited.

“Unplanned sprawl, child labor, unsafe work conditions? It all traces back. I’ve got details… and this is the kind of story that has legs.”

Louisa tried to contain herself. The story “had legs”? Hell, no. This was already a career maker, and now there was a connection with the CEO Trials? This was gold – solid gold. This wasn’t just going to get her a journalism license, it wasn’t just going to get her a job at a recognized channel – this could very well be her ticket to a senior position at her choice of channels. Louisa Teer, wunderkind, director of DC Minute? She flushed, then forced herself to calm down.

“This is goo, Jamie. This is good. Let’s talk visuals. Do you have video?”

“Well, I think that the very best video will be that which you shoot yourself, when you go undercover … but, yes, I’ve already got some video that will blow your socks off.”

Draft 2 (March 2012):

*** 41

== 25 may 2064, Cheap-n-Clean Apartments, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside

Leroy Fournier lightly tugged the knees of his jumpsuit as he sat down in the dumpy chair. The damn jumpsuit felt weird, loose and formless. …except where the “Jamie Matteo” name tag was stitched onto the chest. Was one supposed to wear a shirt under a jumpsuit? He had no idea. How the hell did people wear these all day long? …the physical oddness was bad enough, but walking around advertising one’s humble station in life with one’s very clothes? He shuddered.

Hugh addressed him. “So, Jamie, you said that you’ve got some stories to share with us?”

Allyson immediately blurted out “Do you have anything on unsafe foods?”

Leroy nodded “We can talk about unsafe foods…but food is just one part of the social justice problems here, as I’m sure you know.”

Allyson nodded.

Leroy continued “There’s a whole gamut of problems: unsafe work conditions, lack of regulation, systemic racial discrimination, zero job-training…I think if you approach it from an economic perspective, the story hangs together much better.”

Selena raised one eyebrow. “Excuse me, for asking, Jamie, but I’m a bit surprised that you’d be involved in this sort of expose…I’d expect that working in life support repair, you’d have, maybe, a story about unsafe labor practices or something, but -“

Louisa cut Selena off with a chop of one hand. “No, this is good stuff” She turned to address Leroy. “Jamie, say that we want to investigate the nexus of lack of economic planning and lack of safety regulations -“

“A perfect topic!”

Louisa smiled curtly and continued “- to show the chaos that this lack of responsible oversight creates…and, for a human angle, we want to show the harm to people…what can you give us? Maimed workers?”

Jamie folded his hands. “I can definitely get you that.”

Louisa clarified. “English speaking, with good video presence. Kids, women, maybe an old Asian man. No Africans – at least, no African men. African kids are OK. We need to hit the right demographics to light up the decision makers.”

Jamie paused. “I know I’ve got a few maimed workers…but I’m not sure about the demographics. I’ll have to look into that. Now one interesting thing is that even with the lack of regulation, not all companies are the same. Some firms are a bit more ‘cowboy’. They use older equipment, they don’t use UNESCO-accredited training materials, and so on. I think that -“

Louisa nodded then changed the subject “We definitely want to cover the safety, but we both know the real story is the lack of planning, the chaos-“

Jamie pursed his lips. “Yes, well. OK, the lack of planning. Here’s the thing – ‘follow the money’ – am I right? The unsafe labor, the radical extremist lack of planning, the flouting of the SITTER export code – these things aren’t separate. They’re all part of a conspiracy…a master plan.” Jamie sat back, his hook baited.

Hugh started to ask “Who -?” but Louisa cut him off. “Tell us!”

“It all tracks back to a small cabal of plutocrats who pull the strings. Have you heard of RUPA?”

Louisa shook her head.

Selena looked up for a moment, remembering “The CEO Trials?”

Leroy nodded. “Yes, exactly. Look up the details online, and go through the list of RUPA violators – that’s the Racketeering and Unjust Profits Act. You’re going to see a lot of names. …and then look around here.” Jamie gestured beyond the concrete walls of the small apartment with its dumpy furniture and shelving of discarded shipping boxes to include all of Aristillus.

Louisa’s eyes blazed. “Don’t hold out – tell us!”

Jamie smiled and sat back, stretching out the pause, longer and longer. Finally he spoke.

“Mike Martin.”

Louisa waited.

“Unplanned sprawl, child labor, unsafe work conditions? It all traces back. I’ve got details… and this is the kind of story that has legs.”

Louisa tried to contain herself. The story “had legs”? It was much better than that! This story was already a career maker, and now there was a connection with the CEO Trials? This was gold – solid gold. This wasn’t just going to get her a journalism license, it wasn’t just going to get her a job at a recognized channel – this could very well be her ticket to a senior position at her choice of channels. Louisa Teer, wunderkind, director of DC Minute? She flushed, then forced herself to calm down.

“This is good, Jamie. This is good. OK, we still want to do the worker safety thing as a lead in, but I like the direction. Let’s talk visuals. What can you give us?”

“Well, I think that the very best will be that which you shoot yourself, when you go undercover … but, yes, I’ve already got some video that will blow your socks off.”

Draft 3 (October 2012):

*** 41

== 25 may 2064, Cheap-n-Clean Apartments, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside

George White took a chair in the bakery and watched the door of the rented apartment across the street. No one yet.

A Nigerian woman appeared from somewhere behind the counter and caught his eye. She spoke in some foreign language. George scowled and shook his head. She tried again in English, still smiling. “Nigerian? Calabar?”

George looked up at her in annoyance. “What? No. I’m American?”

She blinked. “Oh. I thought you looked Nigerian.”

George looked at her, waiting for her to go away.

“Can I get you something to eat? Some coffee?”

George scowled and looked away, keeping an eye on the apartment visible through the front window. “No. Nothing.”

The woman blinked. “This is a business – you need to -“. George ignored her. There. The four kids were arriving at the apartment. George stood, brushed past the protesting woman, and walked to the door. Still inside he pulled out his phone and placed a call. “Leroy. George. The college kids are here. Going in now. What? No, I don’t know if I’m going to give them the protest footage. Huh? No, patience. Look, these idiots think they’re journalists. Check raising them slowly is the right move. No. Look, trust me.” He ended the call and strode out onto the sidewalk, then waited for a break in the stream of delivery trucks, automated cargo vehicles, jitneys, and private cars and sprinted across.

The kids were facing the door of the apartment and he approaced them from behind. He announced himself heartilly. “Hey guys!”. They spun around. “Glad you’re here. Hope I’m not late – foreman kept me after.”

The one with dark curly hair and the blue glassframes – Louisa? – smiled. “Jamie! No, not at all!”

“Good. Glad to hear it.” George sidled past them and unlocked the door to the rented room, walked in, and left it open behind him. A moment later they were all seated on the couch and chairs.

The chubby one – Hugh, son of the senator – addressed him. “So, Jamie, you said that you’ve got some stories to share with us?”

Allyson immediately blurted out “Do you have anything on unsafe foods?”

George nodded “We can talk about unsafe foods…but food is just one part of the – uh – social justice problems here, as I’m sure you know.”

Allyson nodded.

George continued “There’s a bunch of issues”. He went through the memorized list. “Unsafe work conditions, lack of regulation, systemic racial discrimination, zero job-training.” He paused – what was the phrase that Leroy had told him to use? Ah, right. “If you approach all of this stuff from an economic perspective, you get a more coherent – ah – narrative.”

Selena raised one eyebrow. “Excuse me for asking, Jamie, but I’m a bit surprised that you’d be involved in this sort of expose. You said in the email that you work in life support repair, so I’d have thought that you’d have a story about unsafe labor practices or something, but -“

Louisa cut Selena off with a chop of one hand. “No, this is good stuff”. George kept an eye on Selena. She didn’t LOOK as smart as Louisa, the leader of the band – none of that academic vibe – but she seemed sharp. He’d have to keep his eye on her. He was filing that fact away when Louisa turned to him. “Jamie, say that we want to investigate the nexus of lack of economic planning and lack of safety regulations -“

“OK, great.”

Louisa smiled curtly and continued “- to show the chaos that this lack of responsible oversight creates…and, for a human angle, we want to show the harm to people.”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“what can you give us? Maimed workers?”

George thought for a moment, then nodded. “Sure. I can set up some interviews.”

Louisa clarified. “English speaking, with good video presence. Kids, women, maybe an old Asian man. No Africans – uh -“.

George shook his head. “No, it’s cool. I’m American. I know what you mean.”

Louisa nodded then continued. “OK. At least, no African men. Cute African kids would be great.” She paused, and seemed to need to explain further. “I mean, we need to hit the right demographics to light up the decision makers.”

George paused. “I get it. Now, here’s an important thing: when you’re investigating firm, you’ve got to realize that some of them are more ‘cowboy’ than others. They use older equipment, they don’t use UNESCO-accredited training materials, and so on. Have you heard of MaisonNeuve?”

The four college kids shook their heads no. George fought back a sigh. Jesus. He had to spoon feed these idiots everything. Which not only was more work, but it also meant that the shit he was being paid to spew was more obvious. Fuck it. He’d just give them the shorter version. If they were even halfway competent they’d research it on their own. “Well, compare MaisonNeuve and Morlock some time. Living wage, safety standards, all that shit.”

Louisa nodded then changed the subject “We definitely want to cover the safety, but we both know the real story is the lack of planning, the chaos-“

George pursed his lips. “Yes, well. OK, the lack of planning. Here’s the thing – ‘follow the money’ – am I right?”. He looked around. The kids were hanging on his words. “Unsafe labor, lack of planning, flouting of SITTER export regs – these things aren’t separate. They’re all part of a conspiracy…a master plan.” George sat back, his hook baited.

Hugh started to ask “Who -?” but Louisa cut him off. “Tell us!”

George smiled. “It all tracks back to a small cabal of plutocrats who pull the strings. Have you heard of Racketeering and Unjust Profits Act?”

Louisa shook her head but Selena looked up. “The CEO Trials?”

George nodded. “Yeah, exactly. Look up the details online, and go through the list of RUPA violators. You’re going to see a lot of names.” He paused. “Then look around this place.” George gestured beyond the concrete walls of the small apartment with its dumpy furniture and shelving of discarded shipping boxes to include all of Aristillus.

Louisa’s eyes blazed. “Who?”

George smiled and sat back, stretching out the pause, longer and longer. Finally he spoke. “Mike Martin.” Louisa was hanging on his words. “Unplanned sprawl, child labor, unsafe work conditions. It all traces back to him – and to his cabal. ‘The Boardroom Group’ – have you heard of it?”

Louisa shook her head.

“No surprise – almost no one has. They don’t advertise. The group isn’t made up of ALL the CEOs here, but it’s got a lot of them. Mike Martin, Kevin Bultman, Javier Borda – lots more. Find yourself a dirty player here in Aristillus and you can be sure they’ve got a seat at that table.” George scanned the group. “Ladies.” He looked over at Hugh and nodded. “Gentlemen. This is the kind of story that has legs.”

Louisa could barely contain herself. “It’s better than that! This Aristillus thing was already a career maker, but now there’s connection with the CEO Trials? This is gold, Jamie – solid gold.” She smiled. The expression looked odd on her – she had a face cut out for seriousness, not for smiling. “This is great. If we play this right, not only will we all get our journalism licenses despite the moratorium but this could be my ticket to a senior position at – “. Then, as quickly as she’d bubbled over she got back in control of herself. The smile disappeared and the serious business-like look came back. George could see the force of will as she stilled her hands and placed them in her lap.

“This is good, Jamie. This is good.” She paused. “One step at a time. Let’s start with the worker safety thing. Now, let’s talk visuals. Beyond the interviews, what can you give us? Footage from inside factories?”

“The best footage will be what you shoot yourself, when you go undercover. I can give you advice on that. But I’ve also got some protest video. Turns out that some folks in the underground are already moving against the ruling cabal.”

“Protest? Cabal? You’ve got to tell me – us – all of this!”

George smiled. Leroy had balked when he’d named his price, but no one could say that that French-Canadian fuck wasn’t getting his money’s worth.

This entry was posted in Stats. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to three revisions

  1. Max Lybbert says:

    I like it. Each revision is better than the previous. Of course, each revision is longer as well, but long and enjoyable beats short but dull any day.

    For what it’s worth, since I’ve been waiting for “Powers of the Earth,” I (*finally*) managed to get a copy of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” to pass the time. That is a great story, and I wish I hadn’t missed out on it for so long. But I’m certainly happy that you didn’t imitate Heinlein’s futuristic jargon/broken English he used to narrate that book.

    • Travis J I Corcoran says:

      > Each revision is better than the previous.

      Thanks!

      > long and enjoyable beats short but dull any day

      Ah, but does long and enjoyable beat short and enjoyable? (No, that’s not a set up for a “that’s what she said!” joke).

      Personally, I’m enjoying writing a sprawling look-at-the-events-from-six-different-angles kind of book ; it’s the novel I WANT to write. Dan tells me that it’s the kind of novel he wants to read.

      The question is: do random readers feel this way? I hope the answer is yes, and that they appreciate an epic story that covers two 500-page books.

      • Max Lybbert says:

        Personally, I’m enjoying writing a sprawling look-at-the-events-from-six-different-angles kind of book ; it’s the novel I WANT to write. Dan tells me that it’s the kind of novel he wants to read.

        It’s the novel I want to read as well; so you have two sales guaranteed. I have to admit that I read more fantasy than realistic science fiction, so while I know that there are several fantasy writers making a living with sprawling books (and, obviously, enough fantasy readers/customers to support those writers), I honestly don’t know if that carries over to science fiction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *