The draft on top is the original draft as it has been written. On the bottom is my draft with my handwritten comments.
I’m going to say right from the start that I’m very nervous about this. The reason I say that is because I really don’t know if I will get 50 pages into this and have to scrap it all. For my Sacred Knight series, I wrote the manuscript for The Three Books a billion times (no, really, I think it was close to a billion!). It started off as a historical romance, then changed to a fantasy romance. When everyone was telling me it was fantasy cake with romance icing, I moved it to be a pure fantasy, keeping the romance as a teaser. I quickly realized that I didn’t belong in the fantasy genre because I hated the minuscule details the current writers were using — 40 pages to describe a tree, really?!!! I wanted action! At this point, all my writing friends were laughing at me and saying that I should enter a first chapter contest with all my chapters and go with whatever one won. Ha, ha. I tried the fantasy romance again and failed. Depressed, I went to the library where I found Bruce Coville. His book, Eyes of the Tarot, probably saved my life. I began devouring young adult books at this point and changed Steigan’s story to be a young adult story. Then I went through a difficult season with my writing and I changed it to be a graphic novel. Not being able to finish it fast enough drove me back to writing it as a young adult.
So, I’m nervous about showing an edit so early on. The story could easily spin around on me several chapters in. I’m use to scrapping chapters and starting all over if I think something else needs to be done. That’s how I work. I’ve telling myself that it’s going to be okay here, that the reason for you reading this blog is because you want to know how writers write their books. You might very well see the full agonizing process (one that I wouldn’t trade for the world!) and we might have to start all over again. Here we go.
So here’s the first page. In critiquing it for edits that need to be made, I see that I have a lot of white space right off. That usually means you’re going too fast. I hate (HATE, HATE, HATE) the word “was” in first paragraphs. Thank goodness this is only a draft. It will be fixed before publication. But, it’s a good example of just getting it down on paper. The words can always be fixed.
Now, I have this creature down in the well, so I have to do something to describe the scene. I start thinking about something like a magic mirror spell on the surface of the water, but being looked at from below. Have you ever been submersed in a swimming pool at looked up at people walking around the pool or at the sky? Yeah, that’s what needs to be added, something like that.
Since this little boy is dipping the bucket into the well, it seems it has no depth. If that’s the case, I need to do a better job of explaining. Or, I need to show a bucket being lowered down into the well. I do have a point of view shift (pov) to the boy as he notices something in the water. I’m really not feeling grounded in my point of view here, which is actually something more we’ll discuss on the next page.
I have a lot of similar words. I start circling them and mapping them out so I can see where they are on the page. My goal when I edit them will be to reduce these by at least half. I also have that weird “look,” “see,” “seen” sentence. Not sure what that needs to be at this point, but I’ve marked it.
I have similar sentence structures underlined too: “I waited,” “I watched,” “I smiled,” “I said” as I’m hoping when I slow down the narrative a lot of these will be re-worded.
I feel like I’m putting the cart before the horse here. Editing is not something I would normally even begin until I had completed the first draft and I knew the story was solid. However, for the sake of showing the process, I will put an edited page here, just not right now as I’ve already put more editing comments on this that I thought would be there. Plus, I want to figure out how to effectively run it through the blog.
Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.