Deleted Scenes – The Beginning(s)

TM draft list - editedTwinmaker went through a lot of drafts. I have nineteen different files stashed away, plus three different openings, three different endings, and numerous alternate takes on individual chapters. Characters came and went, names changed, themes rose to the surface or were trimmed back . . . yet somehow, through it all, the book stayed the same book. Twinmaker was simply evolving, with the help of my agent and editors, into the best possible version of the book it wanted to be.

Here is a video (YouTube) I took around draft eleven, showing the changes between where the book was then and the first draft. Blue equals deleted text, red new, and green moved; the few black lines are the ones that hadn’t changed at all. Remember, another eight drafts followed! But it was still the same story, just like (as Clair and Turner discuss in the train to New York) our bodies are constantly losing and gaining new cells but still we remain ourselves. (That scene, btw, was always in there.)

I would never roll back time to any of those earlier versions–and undo all that good work? Not a chance!–but I do have fond memories of the process, and of the scenes that fell by the wayside. Over the coming weeks I’ll post some of the latter. These include conversations between the main characters that now never happened, key moments and understandings that didn’t fit as the story morphed around them. Some of these scenes contain lines that ended up elsewhere. You might recognize them. I hope you’ll forgive the occasional typo or awkwardness: these pages weren’t proofread and I haven’t gone to the trouble of polishing them now. They were deleted for a reason.

And now, referring to the title of this post . . . Something that changed quite radically over the course of the book was the opening. The final version reads “The Lucky Jump was all the rage that year”, etc, but another version (4) went like this:

Among the fifty-three private messages Clair received overnight, most were from friends in other time zones, two were reminders from her parents to finish her chores before class, and of the rest desperate pitches for study aids and start-up nets predominated. There was one, though, that had come through a name-stripping server and was therefore untraceable. It had no attachments. It didn’t even have a header.

This Clair opened immediately, thinking: Could be from Zep.

Here’s another (2):

The very first thing Clair Hill did that morning was check her messages. There were more than fifty, all sent overnight, mostly from friends in other time zones. Two were nags from her parents of chores she had to do before class. One had come from an anonymizing server and could not be traced. Its header said, Happy now?

She opened the anonymous message immediately. That was the one she had been waiting for.

“Here’s what you wanted,” Libby appended in a terse voicemail to the text. “Now get off my back.”

Clair’s eyelids were closed so the words appeared to float in the darkness above her.

Instructions followed, a dozen or so spare lines that seemed straightforward on the surface but hid deeper ramifications. Clair read them through twice and was no more enlightened than she had been before. It didn’t make sense. Improvement couldn’t possibly be real.

But it was real.

Her best friend was in trouble, and Clair was out of ideas.

Time to ask for help.

Which just goes to show how little I knew back in the beginning. I thought they were great openings. And maybe they might have been, but not for Twinmaker.

The final book exists, and I’m immensely proud of it. These are glimpses into another universe, and another book, where things went somewhat differently . . .

(The plan is to post one a week for the next couple of months. Enjoy!)

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