Thoughts on a messy writing and rewriting process

It’s hard sometimes to tell which aspects of writing process are interesting to others, and which are only interesting to me because, well, I’m spending so much time with these stories.

But as I reminder to myself of just how much my books change between their first and final drafts (something I always seem to get a little bit angsty about, no matter how many books I write this way), a while back I made up a list of things that were true when writing the very first, no-one-gets-to-see-this-ever draft of Bones of Faerie that are very much not true now. So much not true now that it hurts my brain a little to think back to that first draft, knowing the story as it is now.

I think the only thing on the list that wouldn’t in some way be a spoiler is that Liza, Matthew, Allie, and Kate were originally named Steele, Marcus, Lissa, and Faythe.

Other things that were true in Bones’ very first draft — SPOILERS AHEAD (scroll over to read):

– Liza met a dark shadow that claimed to be her death. Since it wasn’t time for Liza to die yet, though, the shadow had no interest in killing her, and just sort of hung around being helpful instead (this was actually the draft before the first draft, and stalled out early)
– Matthew was not a wolf and in fact did not believe in magic (part of the same aborted pre-first-draft)
– Matthew was a wolf, and this freaked magic-fearing Liza out so much that she ditched him in the forest, and we didn’t see him again for nearly half the book
– The trees and wild dogs didn’t attack Liza until after Matthew was gone, and it was Samuel who rescued Liza from those dogs and took her to his town
– Karin was human, and she and Samuel were living together, presumably lovers (this one, in particular, just hurts my brain now)
– Samuel and Karin’s town kept magic–all magic–out using complicated rituals involving animal bones
– As a result of those rituals, none of Washville’s children had any magic, and Allie/Lissa wasn’t a Healer (Allie never really came to life until I changed her name, at which point she came so strongly to life that she was a joy to write)
– Allie/Lissa died of the bite of a magic-touched rabbit. Liza called her back–sort of
– Squirrel attacks! Deadly squirrel attacks!
– The Arch was not the gateway to Faerie–was not present in the story at all
– Faerie was not a charred dead land, merely a brown and dying one, and Liza found Caleb and her Mom living together there
– Human magic wasn’t limited to children–Liza’s Mom had magic, too, but didn’t want it, and so somehow gave it to Liza, even though Liza didn’t want it either
– The other children in Liza’s town really didn’t have magic, or if they did we never saw it
– When Liza called the River, it not only listened to her–it rose and followed her all the way to her town, and she then had to find a way to send it away again

I didn’t quite throw everything away, though — a few things from the first draft of the story managed to remain true throughout — DEEPER SPOILERS AHEAD (scroll over to read):

– The death of Liza’s sister, which was always the spark behind the larger story, even if I didn’t integrate it into that story well until later
– The nature of Liza’s magic, with its calling and its visions
– The way the children of Washville weren’t allowed outside their town–though the reasons for that were different
– The fact that trees and rivers were both forces to be reckoned with (so were any number of other completely random things–part of my revisions, before I ever sent the book out, involved streamlining the nature of the dangers magic held)
– I think Caleb was still a Healer. My memory is hazy here. Liza was healed by someone in Faerie, at any rate
– Tallow and Allie took to each other pretty much at once
– Allie/Lissa followed Liza
– Liza had to confront her father at the end (I can’t remember what happened to him, though–possibly the river killed him)
– At the very very end, Liza called autumn back to the world

The other thing that followed me from the earliest drafts of Bones all the way to the final ones was the emotions among some of my characters, and what the tensions were among them. Even as everything else changed, that at least in part remained the same–which makes me wonder if those core emotions aren’t what that messy first exploratory draft is for, at least for me.

At any rate, Thief Eyes changed at least as much from first draft to last, arguably more, so it’s really not all that much of a surprise, in the end, to see that the current project is pretty much on track to do the same. 🙂

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