pg 111: I'm a sucker for this sort of first paragraph. Getting to write something like this is probably my favorite thing about being a writer. Finding the words to feel and see something. I love it. I went back to see my first draft (or more likely a second or third). This paragraph was there, though not at the beginning of a chapter and slightly different.
"Every day the sun seemed lower, leaning closer and closer to Mount Eskel, a mother’s eye looking in on her babe. It was brilliant and painfully bright, the sky achingly blue, the hard crust of snow beginning to soften. Patches emerged, showing green things rising out of the rocks and mud. The smell in the air changed—it felt thicker, richer, like the aroma around a cook pot. Plants were waking up and spring was slowly stretching on the mountain. The girls looked more and more up from their books and toward Mount Eskel and their homes."
"the rough and furtive yearning": Miri is not sure how she feels about the possibility of marrying a prince. Someone said that confusion is feeling two opposite ways about the same thing. It's possible to both love and hate an idea or a person, to want and fear something at the same time. I think we know this as we grow older, but it's a simple concept that I don't think all young people grasp. It's okay to be confused. Most things are not in absolutes.
Pg 119: "the chilly air of early spring nipped and butted Miri's skin." I remember initially adding "like a herd of goats" or something, but then realized the verbs conveyed that meaning well enough on their own. The goal is always to write a sentence using not one more word than is necessary.
honeyed nuts!: I want some of those right now.
Isobel asks, "How do you figure out just the right amount of tension--enough to hold the reader without scaring them off?" Good question. I don't know the answer. I guess it depends on the book, the scene, the moment, the reader. There's no good way I know of to quantify it. Reading a lot of books and watching what other writers do helps hone my internal reader, and I use her to gauge all such questions when I'm writing.
Leslie asks, "How much rewriting do you do before your editor even sees the manuscript, and how much is in response to direct feedback from your editor?" Varies. With this book, I sent her the third draft. Only once have I sent her a first draft (along with many caveats). I usually like to get it into the semblence of a book first, but early enough in the process that I can use her valuable eyes to help me avoid huge mistakes I might be making before I do too many drafts. She usually reads three different drafts--say draft 3,6, and 9, and then again the "final" draft when it goes to copy edits, plus the copy edited version, and each set of proofs... Editors do a lot of work! I love my editor. I've never sent her a draft that I thought was final and then was shocked that she had notes. I always ache for a better story, so her notes are always welcome. With this book in particular, I could have kept fiddling with it for months longer--not changing anything major, just words--and she took it from me and said, "It's done, Shannon." I wasn't sure. They typeset it and sent me the first proofs, and when I read them I sighed with relief. She was right. She usually is.
Rebecca says, "Possible favorite conversation in the entire book:
"...Who cares about a prince anyway?"
"I'd wager the prince himself cares a great deal," said Miri as they rushed back to the academy at Olana's call. "And he might have a puppy who is quite fond of him."
Love! Absolutely love it! Your books make me want to hug everyone around me. My cats don't appreciate it so much."
Rebecca, this comment makes me want to hug YOU. And your cats.