Friday, August 19, 2011

The Power of Editing

Sometimes it can be hard to let go of things from your first draft. I loved the beginning of my book, and was rather proud of it. So when I posted it on the WriteOnCon forums and was getting negative feedback, I was really frustrated with myself. What if I wasn't good enough? What if it was all just a waste of time? (See my 'To give up or not to give up' post here.)

But then I had a change of heart. What if I can make my beginning even better than it already was? So I opened up a new document, copied and pasted chapter one of my WIP, and made plenty good use of the backspace key.

Here's the difference:

Previous Draft (There was a prologue before this, too, and I cut it)

The room was darker than the blackest night, and colder than the depths of winter. Only one candle burned, the rest snuffed out by the wind. No sound pierced the silence but the barking of the seals resting blissfully on the beach. No movement disrupted the still air but the birds flying overhead. 
That was because they were all dead. 
My Clan—my family—of Witches had been unearthed. We’d been too confident in our magical abilities, and as a result lost all of our accomplishments. Pride made us careless, and the Knights took advantage of that weakness. We’d heard the King ordered all Magic Holders exterminated, but we didn’t think it could actually be done. I stood shaking amongst the bodies of my Brothers and Sisters, overcome with the horror of just how real the threat had been. 
My teeth ground against each other. I should have fallen victim to this massacre. Every other week, one member of my Clan left for a few days and gathered plants for the Green Witches—the healers and potion makers. This particular week I was chosen. To obtain all the supplies they needed, I traveled into the hills. As a White Witch, someone who works with spirits and the Other Worlds, I spent more time gathering than others. Everyone thought I would be in more danger than the rest of my Clan, but we didn’t know the Knights started searching for Magic Holders by sea. 
I was welcomed home by corpses. Twenty-three were my Brothers and Sisters, and the remaining forty-eight were Knights. The stone shelter we’d built was now merely a shell of what it had been, the roof almost completely caved in as the walls struggled to remain standing. We’d only been living in this location for a couple of weeks, but all of us thought we’d finally found somewhere we could stay longer than a month. 
It was my birthday.

New Draft
My feet flew across the ground, oblivious to the rocks beneath them. My Clan’s stone shelter caved in on itself, the walls struggling to remain standing. Bodies scattered the ground outside the one door, bodies of the knights so intent to destroy Magic. I prayed silently to God as the scene grew steadily closer, pleading that my Family was all right—

I stumbled through the door, avoiding the corpses around me. My bag fell to my side, and I stopped short.

They were all dead.

A sob escaped my throat and I collapsed to the ground. No, no, no…

Elizabeth. The woman who’d raised me, treated me as her own daughter, lay a few feet away, her eyes staring blankly into the stars. I crawled over to her lifeless body and took her in my arms, shaking. Not Elizabeth…

A seal barked on the beach, but my wails drowned the noise. Though Elizabeth’s dress was stained red, my clothes remained free of blood. She’d already been dead a day. A day. And I hadn’t been here.

I took a deep breath and glanced around the room. Everything was gone. Our cauldrons, candles, talismans, even our cooking pots. What was once a home was now a burial chamber—four thick stone walls surrounding this massacre. Their deaths wouldn’t be remembered, forgotten, or even noticed. All we had was each other.

But now I was alone.
I don't know about you, but I see a WORLD of difference in those two drafts. I was so scared to change anything, but once I did, I was given a better beginning because of it.

And it'll just keep getting better.


(To read the first five pages of my book, OPEN EYES, click here!)


  1. Love the new beginning! Your writing inspires me, the way you're constantly evolving as a writer and trying new things. I think you're going places. *latches onto your hand* Take me with you!

  2. This is definitely a much more immediate, heart-pounding opening - and I want to know what happens next! It's great that things like WriteOnCon exist to give us a fresh perspective on our work.

  3. This is a great edit!!! I shared a link to it on my blog as part of the Liebster Award.

  4. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x


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