The biggest change in this section–and from here on out in the book, actually–is that Meander shows up. In the original, Buttersby didn’t see Meander again until she went back to the ranch (something which all you astute readers no doubt notice doesn’t happen in the current book.) However, everyone liked Meander so much–and his relationship with Buttersby was so important–that I couldn’t keep him away. He just had to come along for the ride. This was really important, since it allowed Buttersby to have her character climax which comes later–the one where she admits that she’s friends with Meander.
Something else I’d like to note here is how much I changed the style of narration of the book between the first draft and the final. In the original version, there was much more of an intrusive narrator. What I mean by this is that there was a narrator who actually addressed the audience from time to time. Many of these comments were turned into chapter bumps (the little tidbits about alpaca life that appear in italics before each chapter), but some just had to go completely. Here’s an example of one:
(For a bit of background, this selection came right after the narrator had told the audience all about Vicunas and how special they are–facts which Buttersby was still in the dark about. The Vicunas, on the other hand, had just told Buttersby that she ought to be honored to meet them.)
So you can see that while you and Buttersby were rather ignorant about Vicunas until a few moments ago, it was a terrible state to be in. Everyone should know about them. What person’s—or alpaca’s—life is complete if they have never even heard the word Vicuna before?
Unfortunately for Buttersby, she didn’t have the benefit of the narrator. Many people suffer from this. You might have heard of the benefit of the doubt, where you try to go easy on a person because there is some doubt as to what they actually knew or intended to do, no matter how things may seem. The benefit of the narrator is quite different. It’s when you have someone—like myself—present to always fill you in on all the most important facts. With the benefit of the narrator, for example, Sherlock Holmes would never have needed to deduce anything. A narrator spoils a good detective story faster than a llama can spit. If you started out a book with the first sentence being, “The butler did it,” then you don’t really have any incentive to keep reading to find out who done it. Such is the power of the benefit of the narrator. You have it, Buttersby didn’t. Which is why when Middle said, “You’re welcome,” Buttersby thought Vicunas were quite possibly the world’s most stuck up creatures.
So you see? That’s an intrusive narrator. I changed this because I didn’t really like it, and neither did my trusty writing group. It came across sort of like some guy in a movie who won’t shut up. Annoying.
Another item of note here is the single full page illustration in the book appears in this chapter. Shawn originally wanted to have this as the cover illustration, but the editor decided it didn’t focus enough on Buttersby. Too much Meander. Still, we liked the look of it, and so it was decided to include it in the book in its present incarnation, as a black and white full page.
In any case, that’s about all I have time for today. As always, if you have questions or comments, please feel free to email me. I’m happy to address pretty much anything anyone would like to know. Have a great day.