Now How About A Page 199 Test?


Here we go again. Today, I’m about to subject my beloved first-born book to yet another investigation. For those that might have missed it, here’s the older post on Page 99 test for MXC.

You might be thinking that I’m a glutton for punishment–surely looks like that, right? Beating oneself up about all the glorious failures of one page is bad enough, now I want another?

What can I do? Something spurred me on.

Well, three things actually–a weird self-discovery, a need to be true to something and an undying hope.

I’ll talk about the weird self-discovery first. I found out that after I had posted my assessment of MXC’s page 99, I felt good. I was not expecting that. I had thought the exercise would make me want to rework my page 99. I was sure there would be a dip in my confidence. None of that happened. It was funny that discussing my opinions of the page made me even more sure about how my books are laid out. Please don’t get me wrong–that does not mean that everyone reading the book will go gaga about it or even agree on a single thing I’ve written about or how I’ve written it. And I’m not even seeking or wanting that because it’s not a realistic expectation.

Okay, so what am I seeking then? I am looking to grow more confident in my ability to express my artistic side. That confidence has nothing to do with acceptance by the external world, but it has everything to do with how my heart and soul accepts it. And the “page 99 test” was nothing but yet another test of whether or not I had fully embraced my own vision.

Figured that I had. That was the reason I could be happy.

Next step? Keep tests like that going, it would help me thrive.

Onto the second reason. The page 99 test is ultimately the test of a book. Inanimate it may seem, but a book to me has as much right to be represented in fair light as any other artistic expression. Any book, however gorgeous or however foul, deserves an un-skewed commentary with bias-free tools.

The page 99 test is merely a statistical tool to evaluate the contents of a much larger canvas. I don’t have to wave my ‘majored in statistics’ flag to say that one sample is still just a sample. Everyone knows that the more samples you can take of something, the better the results of the sampling experiment. Particularly true that is of larger populations.

So, if I were to pick one page of a 1000 page behemoth, it would be a weaker snapshot than if I were to pick one page of a 100 page book. Agreed?

Since MXC is about 350 pages long and also part of a 5-book series, I felt one page was definitely not representation enough. The pain would be mine, but for the sake of preserving the sanctity of the art, I would have to do ideally a couple, or at least one more test.

Now, the third is about hope, and keeping at it. A lot of people on the interwebs and many compatriots I have discussed this with, do not like the “page 99” test. Mostly because a partial sample is not the entire population–it can never hope to be. My audacity is trying to make it better, by sampling a little more. Maybe because statistics was a favorite subject in my past life, I just couldn’t ignore the great premise of the tool, and I hate to write it off completely.

All right then. Much talk done, now let’s get to some real work. I have kept the dissection format the same as the last, so it keeps me honest and objective. Let’s jump in!

What are we doing at “Page 199”

We find ourselves in Chapter 30, titled “Under the glass staircase.”

Is this chapter important in the grand scheme of things or is it merely a filler?

This is just after Maia/the team/Core 21 has discovered the titular “conspiracy.” One step back–the conspiracy actually alludes to more than the book 1 arc, but my nod in the last line was the arc in this book. So, after stumbling across the theft of a significant key that controls the flow of energy to a specific population, the kids are bewildered. Think back to the “page 99,” revelation where the all important rules of the XDA are mentioned–the kids are unable to tell anyone outside the XDA about what they have just found out, even though what they have discovered threatens the lives of millions. They reach out to the only person they are allowed to reach out to–their counselor Miir.

Miir and his relationship with the team will probably remain unresolved for a few books, he is one whose stand in the conflict is purposely up in the air. There’s no doubt though, he is definitely someone to watch. And no scene he is in can be called a filler (I am probably giving away too much with that sentence).

What’s on page 199?

Two things that are central to the book.

– The confirmation of the loss of the Chrysocolla key. This key causes the central conflict in this book and the quest to secure it leads to the climactic showdown.

– The team’s relationship with Miir changes very subtly yet significantly in this chapter. No, it’s not the back and forth Maia has with him at the end of this chapter that is critical, however cute it may be. It’s the stand he takes on page 199 that gives the biggest clue to their future. I won’t give away spoilers–some astute readers have picked this up and you might as well–so I’ll just tease and leave it at that.

In conclusion, page 199 is pretty darn important.

The critical ask–would anyone buy the book seeing only this page?

The answer to this is, again, NO. If I were a reader and there was nothing else to make me want to buy the book other than just “the page,” I don’t think the page would sizzle enough to win me over.

So then, is page 199 representative of what lies in the rest of the 150+ pages?

The answer to this is also–NO. Quoting my takeaway from the “page 99″post:  “My books are a complicated maze of puzzles. People who love it do that because they enjoy soaking themselves into mysteries and seeking the threads of these riddles. These threads I spin are not for the faint of heart to detect and solve, they are not meant to be easy to find. One page, therefore, is not enough.”

Does page 199 give a snapshot of the book then? Yes, it totally does. But you won’t be able to tell what kind of bird this is by simply looking at the fraction of a feather.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in on my books, on writing, teaser tuesdays

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