Today's teaser is from MIRRORPASS, draft 1, chapter 3.
Cut in draft 2.
* * *
It was better if she looked down, or better yet, kept her eyes closed. As long as Aria kept her focus inside – didn’t look out where the sky ballooned, where buildings rooted in the ground, and mutants limped along the faceless land – she was okay. As long as she didn’t look.
But Aria couldn’t resist. It was beautiful, horrible, and fascinating all at once.
She told herself, This is the earth. It is below me instead of above me, but it is still earth. Like in the glass gardens at home. That is the sky. You’ve had sky above you before, this is just bigger. It is still the same sky. That is the sun…it is above you instead of below, but it is still the same light...
She dug her fingers into the dirt. It was spongy, moist. Aria looked down at her hands with the sudden fascinated thought that she’d never touched dirt before – not real dirt, only the matted artificial stuff used in oxygen gardens, or the dust that gathered in the air filter. Aria had always imagined that real dirt was chalky and dry. She’d seen the Industrial workers from time to time, their clothes stained and fading, faces covered in dull smudges.
They said that Industrials loved dirt the way Academics loved space. Lying here now, her skin cooled by the earth, fingers tangled in roots, nose filled with the richness of composting plants, Aria thought maybe she understood. It had a quality she’d never felt before. Space was ethereal – this was earthy.
Aria couldn’t imagine being an Industrial, a land-crawler. How could they bear to scrabble around like that? Did they ever feel this isolation, this insignificance?
Overhead, the door banged.
* * *
What made this a darling:
This scene used to be one of my favorites. It's the first time Aria ever goes outside, and literally the first time in her life she's stood on solid ground. It had huge potential as a scene. But at this point, only three chapters in, I didn't know a lot about Aria's world--just that it was "backwards" from our own. I had to sit down and really think through what "backwards" meant and how this would leave Aria feeling. It was intense, and in the end, I came up with a really unique perspective for her (not to mention the concept of Landcrawlers--suddenly I had a lower class! My society was born!)
Why it got murdered:
This is the only redeemable section from a three- or four-chapter mess. In my first draft, Aria ran away from the two people who I wanted to become her friends. Getting her to trust them again wasted a lot of time. Plus, their relationship was always a bit sketchy from that point onward. On top of THAT, I needed Aria to be more proactive--less running away, more running toward. So in draft 2 I cut that entire sequence and had Aria ask her friends for help, instead. It sped up the entire story and works much better.
MIRRORPASS is a YA SF novel currently undergoing edits. To learn more, check out the WIP page.
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Truly and always,