Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Evolution of a Story


I'm feeling much better. Thanks everyone for the well-wishes. :) I really appreciated it. I am now up to 4 requests in a little over a week, so I'm very excited. *squeal*

Today, I wanted to write a little about how stories evolve. I don't know about everyone else, but my first draft looks NOTHING like my final. If it weren't for a few similar names, it could literally be a different book--a different genre even.

I thought I'd dig through my archives and find my original rough draft and post a scene from it... then post a similar one from my final. I've already posted my opening here so I think I'll do something else.

Okay, I found similar scenes that show some of Lexi's history and explain a little about why she hates her telekinesis.

ROUGH DRAFT VERSION

The combination of events that had brought Lexi to Oracle flashed through her head once again. Her parents’ deaths, the funeral, the unexpected move across the country… ghosts of the past haunted her. Lexi stared at the ceiling once more, but she was no longer seeing it. She became lost in the memories that invaded her dreams and transformed them into nightmares. Her trance continued up until the moment she saw the light fixture on the ceiling above her head begin to swinging wildly. Lexi’s eyes went wide and she bolted up from the bed wringing her hands together. Seeing the fixture shaking was like a bucket of ice water hitting her. She shook her head to clear it, her heart pounding in her ears.

“No Lexi,” she murmured.

She knew it did no good to wallow in her self-pity. To be honest it always got her in trouble. It didn’t change anything and generally only caused problems. The times she let her emotions be in charge were the times she would slip up, and lose control. Then the bad things would happen. Lexi was terrified of making those things happen.

Lexi had known for a long time that she was different. When she concentrated hard, got angry or upset, she could make things move with her mind. At first it was just a small vibration in an object, harmless. Lexi had even thought it was fun. Fun! Lexi scoffed, shaking her head, the irony was biting. There was nothing fun about it.

It had been almost a year since Lexi had let her mind do something like she had today. Not since she had first arrived in Oracle. It was the first day of her freshman year and she’d been getting ready for school. It had been similar to what had just happened. She was distracted from worrying about school, and the memories of her Parent’s accident had come flooding through her head.

“Ugh!” Lexi moaned and covered her eyes with her hands just thinking about it. Of course no one had seen her, but she’d managed to knock her dresser over. Moving to a new school is rarely a good experience. The fact that she had slipped and used her telekinetic abilities that morning had made her jumpy all day.


FINAL VERSION

She turned back to Aya, her expression dubious. “Are you saying? What—that he’s right? You healed me?”

“Yes.”

“How long have I been out?”

“Not long, it’s evening.”

Lexi raised one eyebrow. “It’s the same day?”

“Yes.”

“Sure, okay.” Lexi nodded after a long pause, and rubbed her fingers on her knees. “And did you use a normal wand or bring in a fairy to do the trick?”

Aya’s smile wavered for a moment, and her eyes hardened slightly.

“This is the least of the things that I’ll ask you to believe. You aren’t new to the incredible. Why are you fighting it?”

Lexi looked away. “I—I don’t know what you mean.”

Aya frowned. “Yes, you do.” Her statement left no room to argue, but Lexi shook her head. With a sigh, Aya moved closer to the bed, staring at her intently.

At first, Lexi felt only uncomfortable under her gaze. Then an intense pressure began building behind her forehead. It wasn’t painful, but she didn’t like it.

“Stop that, what are you doing?” Lexi leaned back into the pillows, but she couldn’t turn away. Her voice sounded small behind the rushing vacuum inside her head.

The memory crashed over her, pulling her under and tying her up with its motion. Her secret expanded on the wall for everyone to see.

╦ ╦ ╦

A young girl with dark curls sat on a pink, ruffled bedspread. Her pajamas were blue with pink bows. She bounced in place, unable to control her excitement. A blonde girl sat across from her.

“Just tell me. What’s so exciting?”

Lexi took a deep breath, but couldn’t contain her grin. “I’ve wanted to tell someone for so long, but I couldn’t. You’re the only one I really want to tell, Jo.”

Jo giggled, “All right, so tell me.”

“I—well, I can move things.” Her voice was so soft, it was barely audible.

“What do you mean, silly? Of course, you can move things.”

“But I can move things without touching them—just, you know, by thinking it.”

Jo looked at her for a moment, before laughing again. “Be serious!”

Lexi's brow furrowed. "No, I am serious. I’ll show you." She focused on a delicate glass ballerina on Jo's dresser. Jo laughed, but followed Lexi's gaze. The figurine lifted a couple of inches and hovered gracefully in the air.

Jo’s piercing scream tore through the room and Lexi jumped backward, her concentration broken. She’d expected Jo to be surprised, but not scared. The tiny ballerina fell back to the dresser and shattered.

She looked at Jo and blinked. Jo backed into a corner of the room and stared at Lexi in horror.

“Jo?” Lexi whispered, her eyes wide. Her feet moved forward of their own volition, but she stopped when her friend’s face went pale and she recoiled farther into the corner. Watching her felt like a bucket of ice water had been dumped down Lexi’s spine. As if through a haze, she watched Jo’s fingernails scratched at the walls around her, frantically searching for a way out.

Her best friend, her only friend, was desperate to escape her.

Lexi backed away, shaking her head, dazed. Scrambling for her backpack, she ran from the house. Her feet bare, and her pajamas damp with her tears.

╦ ╦ ╦

Lexi’s vacant eyes stared at the wall. It had been blank for a few minutes, but she couldn’t seem to drag them away. Her cheeks and shirt were wet with the tears that wouldn’t stop. They carved paths through the dirt on her face.

“I’m sorry.” Aya’s words pulled Lexi’s gaze from the wall. Aya’s face was a mixture of regret and pity. It was the pity that set her gut on fire.

“So you can just pull out anyone’s memories and display them for the world to see? That’s super.” Lexi’s voice bubbled fury as she rubbed her cheeks dry with the back of her hand. She refused to look at Cam, but could feel his eyes on her and was horrified. She felt weak. She hated feeling weak.

“Don’t do that to me again--ever.”

HMM...My Thoughts

I think the final scene is much more powerful, and although it kind of cheats--it isn't technically a flashback. :P

In the first draft--man those were some serious blocks of text--and loads of telling.

Lexi's voice is much clearer throughout the final draft... you can probably see that difference here.

Anyway, so how about your books? Can you see how the story evolved from beginning to end? Can you see how your writing evolved? What was the most important thing you learned through the process?

12 comments:

  1. Wow! You've made me want to go back and read my first draft. I'm sure I could find several scenes that improved like that after revisions. I know I rewrote a lot of scenes where there was a lot of telling. This was a great example of the difference between that and showing. Oh, and congrats on the additional requests. You're on fire girl!

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  2. I totally agree. My first draft is nothing like my last. Sometimes I wonder if there's even one sentence that's the same.

    Interesting to post the two. I should go back and see if my writing has changed, maybe I'll feel more encouraged.

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  3. I love how the dialogue enhances and straightens out the scene in general.

    Four additional requests? You rock.

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  4. My stories evolve so much they're practically different books. At least that's how it's been so far. Crazy! We just learn as we go. :D

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  5. I edit over first draft stuff so I don't have to read the stuff I first come up with. *shudders* I am rewriting my first book and it's already dramatically different. Great topic!

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  6. Incredible. I'm learning a lot about how much I can rework my own writing. I'm off to do some work now.

    Oh, and congrats on all your requests. Looks like it's paying off!

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  7. Squee! Congrats on the requests!

    And I'm glad you're feeling better, too. :)

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  8. As I write my rough draft, I know if will need a serious rewrite so this has been on my mind lately. I like seeing the difference between the two...more action and dialogue in the final draft made it a much more interesting read. And the whole ballerine scene...awesome.

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  9. Mine is very different from the first draft.

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  10. Congrats on all the requests! Hope the wait isn't too long.

    My one wip had to go through some major edits after the first draft because it went in a different, but better, direction from the outline about 1/2 way into it. The second draft meant going back to fix the first half so it matched the second half. (Okay, this made so much more sense in my head).

    My other wip (first draft) won't be causing the same headache. I've stuck pretty much to the outline this time. :D

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  11. Amen for rewrites! lol. They always get better after some elbow grease and time in the mental simmering pot. :) Huge difference in mine too.

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  12. I love how the dialogue enhances and straightens out the scene in general.
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