The pain of the endgame

I've spent the last two weeks slicing and dicing the workshop-bound draft of my young adult novel, Timeslip. A few chunks need to be fixed, but right now I'm doing delicate surgery on the endgame: final confrontations, removals of pieces from the board, and a set up for what will come, I hope, in the next book.

It's harder than I expected. Pretty much everyone of significance in the rest of the book plays a role here somewhere. It takes place in an isolated factory building with some sinister features. But getting everyone there, on stage, then appropriately off, requires a lot of narrative machinery that must then be hidden so the reader doesn't get a glimpse of that sweating, desperate man behind the curtain as he raises and lowers scrims, moves furniture on and off stage, and gets the actors prepped for their entrances and exits.

I try to give my workshop a fairly finished piece. It may still have some deep problems, but it's not for lack of trying on my part. So, even though I suspect this section will require some significant changes once they get through with it, I do want it to work on its own terms, now.

I've learned, both through the response my earlier work has gotten, and what I have responded to from others, that lack of attention to that leads to a kind of weary annoyance that encourages the critic to focus on the wrong thing, and miss significant issues that need to be dealt with.

It's just like in marketing: you make your mockups, drafts, and approaches as polished as possible, even though you know they will get completely hacked up later. Otherwise people end up complaining about the font or telling you that you really should have put something in that last bullet where you indicated there was room for an additional point.

So, I'm later with it than I implied to my workshop, but it's in a good cause. I hope.