As promised, I’m going to be posting a lot of the early drafts of Extras. Here’s installment #1 in that project: the very first thing I can find on my hard drive.
As you will see, it’s not really a “draft,” just a blob of text that has almost nothing to do the final story. Except that it’s about face ranks and fame, and that Hiro’s in it. I’m pretty sure I wrote it in Thailand.
Now you may remember this post back in January, where I explain that Extras was originally written from Hiro’s point of view. In this ancient draft Aya doesn’t even exist yet; Hiro has no little sister, just an old friend named Terra who’s good at schemes and inventions. (Sort of like Ren in the final version.)
This opening may not make much sense on its own, but it does show how much things can change from first draft to last. Hopefully it will remind you all that there is no good writing, only good rewriting.
Here we go . . . chapter one of “From First Draft to Final: The Extras Story!”
Down and Out
Hiro awoke to a bright sky, the heavy clouds like burnished gray metal. He rubbed his eyes, yawned, and gave the room his usual command.
“Darker, and show my count.”
The window opaqued, and numbers appeared on the wall. Hiro sighed softly as he stared at the digits. Overnight, he’d slipped out of the top ten thousand.
That’s what came of sleeping late.
“Anything on the feeds?” he asked.
The screen flickered for a moment, then coughed up mentions. Season recaps, old arguments about the playoffs bubbling up, a few littlies chattering about his new haircut. No snaps, no videoâ€”another day of the border of invisibility.
He took a slow breath, reminding himself that it was always like this during the off-season. While his team was playingâ€”and winningâ€”Hiro’s face count never left the top five thousand. But once the playoffs ended, his personal flock of hovercams flew off to stalk politicians, soccer players, and surge designers. Hoverball stars were forgotten by the time the cherry blossoms fell, and the annual One Percent Party always remained out of reach.
This year, though, Hiro Torrent had a plan to change all that.
“Ping Terra,” he told the room.
A chime sounded a few seconds later, the scattering of bells and bird whistles that was his best friend’s signature. Hiro pressed his palms together. “Good morning, Terra-chan.”
“Morning? Did you just wake up?”
“Um, sort of. Didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Nervous about our little trick today?” Her voice sounded amused.
He frowned, wondering if she could see his rumpled pajamas, the pillow lines on his face. His ring was set to privacy, but Terra had ways of tricking the city interface.
Of course, she might just be reading his mind. She’d known him since they were littlies, and she was generally too clever for her own good. Or Hiro’s.
“Are you sure this will work?”
Terra giggled. “It will unless you mess it up, Hiro-chan.”
He sat up and stretched, seeing the trick in his mind, imagining his muscles making all the right moves. “Don’t worry about me.”
“I’m not worried, chan. As long as a Certain Person isn’t already awake by now and sucking up all the hovercams.”
Hiro snorted. “Is that supposed to motivate me?”
“As if you need me for motivation. Have you checked your fame today?”
One of Terra-chan’s annoying habit was using the old word for face countsâ€”fame. But the two were different, really. The way the teachers told it, Rusty fame had been shallow, subjective, and bogus more often than not. But a face count was real, like your height or a hoverball score; it was a statistic, not someone’s guess.
Of course, Certain People were totally bogus, no matter how high their face counts climbed. That’s why he and Terra never said their names out loud: the city interface gave someone face every time you mentioned them.
The teachers said it was bubbleheaded to worry about anyone else’s face count. But they didn’t have to play hoverball alongside Yoshi Cloud.
“I just woke up,” Hiro mumbled.
Terra giggled again, like a littlie full of sugar. “Are you lying to me, Hiro-chan? You know you checked your count already.”
“I didn’t say I hadn’t checked it,” he said, rolling out of bed.
“But you implied it.”
“And now I’m implying otherwise. I’ll see you laterâ€”when it’s done.” He cut the connection before Terra could answer, then snapped at the window to brighten. The wallscreen glinted, reflecting the bright gray sky.
His count flickered there, right on the edge between two numbers. Finally it settled on the higher one, determining that Hiro Torrent was currently the 10,910th most talked-about person in the city.
Still falling, and the day had hardly started.
Present-day Scott here again: Whoa! This is the first time I’ve looked at that in about a year. Many obvious things are different: face counts instead of face ranks, Hiro’s last name is Torrent instead of Fuse, and he’s still a hoverball player instead of a kicker. It’s almost scary to think how much work had yet to be done, both in writing and conceptualizing the book. It makes me want to take a nap.
Anyway, I’ll be posting more of these, showing the way the book took shape over the next few months. Hope you enjoy them.
And I also hope to see lots of you at Books of Wonder on this rainy Saturday. Don’t forget: 3PM!