A lot of what we’re…

A lot of what we're doing in these revisions is fixing summaries. It's frustrating, because it's clear that a lot of the problem is that I wrote the first draft in such a tearing hurry in December. I was just trying to get the story down, and so there are massive blocks of exposition. (I was talking to Jed about this yesterday, and he said that there's a rule of thumb in tech-writing that one pages of outlining will save you two pages of writing later -- that's not exactly what's going on here, but it's related.) I'll give you an example of the kind of thing I've been doing in the last few weeks:


Old version:

The next several weeks are confusing. You spend most nights at Wendy's apartment, having incredible sex. You talk, too -- you get her to tell you a little more about that Sappho monograph, and you talk about your own research. She's doing Greek, you're doing Latin; she's firmly in the ancient world and you're in the medieval one, but you share a classics background; you understand each other. You've never dated a woman like Wendy; she's not just gorgeous; she's smart and interested in your work. Sometimes you suspect she might actually be smarter than you are -- she makes connections in your work that you hadn't seen on your own. As the weeks pass, you enjoy her company more and more, and she seems happier when she's with you. But every night she sends you home alone.

It's getting annoying -- and honestly, you want to know Wendy better. You know her physically, mentally, but there's a big emotional wall between you. She isn't as antagonistic now as she was when you met, but she still keeps everything on the surface. It's friendly, fun. That's it. You're sure there's more to her; more passion, more intensity. You want to unlock that part of Wendy Lake. It's a challenge that keeps nagging at you. You could try to talk to her about it -- but she clearly doesn't want to be pushed on this subject. If you push, you might lose her; lose all this fabulous sex, and the friendly intellectual companionship. Are you willing to risk it? Even if you manage to unlock her emotions, they might not be pleasant ones...


New version:

As the weeks pass, you find yourself spending most nights at Wendy's apartment. You enjoy her company more and more, and she seems happier when she's with you. But no matter how good your conversations are, how good the sex is, every night she sends you home alone. As the nights get colder, as September turns to October, it gets harder and harder to take. Part of it is simply annoying, a frustrating inconvenience. It's no fun, taking the subway home in the cold late nights, the early mornings. But more than that -- you want to know Wendy better. You know her physically, mentally, but there's a big emotional wall between you. Or not a wall -- a sheet of one-way glass. You don't see her, but she sees you.

"Mark..." She's sleepy, satiated after a long bout of sex. Tonight you learned about fist-fucking; you're still amazed that you could get your whole fist inside her.

"Yes, Wendy?"

"Tell me a story." She asks this often.

"What kind of story would you like tonight?"

Wendy thinks for a moment. "Tell me about your brother."

"Jules? Now why would you want to hear about a loser like Jules, when you have a great guy like me right here..." You stroke Wendy's hair -- tangled and damp.

She chuckles. "Just tell me. I want to know."

So you tell her about Jules, the big brother who used to lock you in the basement, who sat on you when he wanted the tv remote, who used to twist your arm up behind your back and threaten to break it if you didn't give him your comic books. Jules who ended up as a lawyer -- and a good one. An idealistic, hard-working lawyer, fiercely committed to the idea of justice; he'll probably end up a judge someday.

You tell her story after story about Jules that night. Other nights you tell her about your parents, about your friends in grad school, about Sarah -- the good parts, and the very bad. But when you ask her about herself, the answer is always the same.

You say, "Your turn now. Tell me a story."

Wendy shrugs. "I can't tell stories, Mark. You know that. Besides, I'm horny now. I'm going to suck your cock. If you don't object?"

"How can I object to that?"

You can't, but as Wendy rolls over on top of you, as she starts kissing her way down your body, you wish for something more. You're having fun with Wendy -- but that's all it is. She keeps everything else locked away -- all the passion, the intensity. You could try to push, but she clearly doesn't want to be pushed. If you push anyway, you might lose her. Are you willing to risk it? Even if you manage to unlock her emotions, they might not be pleasant ones...

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