LESSON #5 IN REVISION
Here is another section from MIRA, MIRROR that was revised:
I felt her eyes on me as she examined me head to foot.
I was used to it. My mother had told me often enough that I was too tall, too broad-shouldered and too wide-mouthed to be a pretty child. And when she had left me here, her last stinging words stole away any tears I might have shed.
“Ugly as a witch. Might as well be one.”
But it was not the same in the other apprentice’s gaze. If she thought to herself that I was hopeless, she did not say so. Instead, she offered to help me.
“I could show you how to use magic to fix those teeth. Or whatever else you wish for.”
I waited, expecting for her to take away the offer as soon as it was spoken, or to make it into some cruel joke. She did neither. Her kindness seemed immense and unmotivated. She must have loved me, too, I thought. And so I would have done anything for her, been anything for her. She had only to ask.
Years later, she did.
Here my editor wrote, “I couldn’t help wondering why Mira loved Amanda so much. Could you give some examples of Amanda’s kindness toward her?”
This was, in fact, very important to the whole book, and especially to the reader’s belief in the ending. There has to be a reason that Mira allows herself to be duped. She is desperate for love, but Amanda must offer it to her. And I have to make the reader believe that in some weird way, Amanda really does love Mira.
Final version of MIRA, MIRROR in 2004
She turned towards me slowly, as if to show off a new gown. But the change she had bought from this magic was, in fact, much subtler. It took me several moments to see it: the nose, long and bony before, had become slightly shorter. It was still too long for the rest of her face, but not as obviously as it had been before.
“Ugly as a witch. Might as well be one.” Those were my mother’s last stinging words to me. Yet here was a witch who was anything but ugly.
The other apprentice glanced over my figure—too tall and broad-shouldered, my mother had told me often enough. “I could show you how to use magic to change whatever you wish,” she offered.
It had been so long since I’d heard anything but criticisms and curses, the kindness seemed too much for me. I went wild with imagination. “Could I have black hair?” I asked, thinking that I had only to copy her to be beautiful.
“If you wish.”
“And could you make me smaller, more graceful?”
She sighed, then came over and held my big, ungainly arms above my head, tracing the line of them in her mind. Moving to my back, she ran a finger along the outline of my shoulder blades. When I tried to hunch over, as my mother had encouraged me to hide my height, the other apprentice made a small sound of tongue to teeth and shook her head. She came around front again and lifted my chin so that I was looking straight ahead. Finally, she inched my hips forward, so that they were directly beneath my spine.
Doubtless I looked more like a castle than a princess, but somehow I felt royal where she had touched me. It was not because of any magic she had given me, that I was sure of. I was just as certain that it was not something magic could take away.
“You have your own beauty,” she said quietly. “I would not have you imitate anyone else’s.”
I gaped at her.
“Who was it?” she asked. “Mother? Father? Sister? Brother? Who hurt you so?”
“I never had a sister,” I said.
“But the others?” she asked.
I hung my head, thinking how many times I had been told it was my fault, that I had to be punished.
“No,” said the apprentice, lifting my chin. “Do not do to yourself what they have always done to you. Here you are free to become whatever you will.”
I said nothing. I liked her voice far better than mine.