Friday, March 28

Comparing drafts of Greenhelm

I've been working on the Greenhelm rewrite, and I thought it was time to break out a bit of the first draft again, for amusement's sake. Well, the very first draft was on paper, and I'm not going to type it up right now, but it's pretty similar to the second draft, which was the first to make it to a computer.

Just trying to find two versions of the same scene to compare is a bit of a struggle; the plot has changed so dramatically that I wouldn't recognise it as the same story. I'd forgotten so much of what I now consider to be digression had seemed vital at the time. I had a huge blind spot to certain gaping plot holes (why has the head of a nation joined nother nation's army? What?) and felt obliged to spin bits of the plot out to make it longer (that lasted into draft three, which got hacked into draft three point five as I went along). It was also deeply, deeply derivative.

Stylistically, I know there are still flaws, not all of which I'm dealing with in this draft. There will be, once I've written the second book (and preferably the third, but I know myself well enough not to hold hope), a fifth draft, but hopefully there won't be any more dramatic changes to the plot.

Anyway, the following contains some pretty strong spoilers for Greenhelm. I don't suppose anyone cares at this point, considering the most recent draft isn't finished yet. Comparing two versions of what is essentially the same dream sequence. The second is cut to pieces because it's (a) quite long and (b) mostly not concerned with the dream that the other draft contains. Diligent and Galahad are the same person, he just suffered a name change.

Aged 13, draft 2:

“I’m family, you know it” taunted the blonde mage, “you know it.”

“Don’t be stupid, I’ve got none.”

The blonde mage showed Galahad the ice blue Magick in his fingers. Galahad could see the same Magick in himself.

“I’m family.”

Galahad shrugged nonchalantly. “You’re no brother of mine.”

“A lot more secure tonight, aren’t you. You actually believe your friends will never desert you. Friends forever. Of course, it’s not like you’ll ever have a girlfriend.”

“I what?”

“You’ll always be single, never marry, never sleep with a girl, never kiss. No girl will find you attractive. Always alone. You’ll go mad with loneliness. Watching your friends marry and have kids, watching everyone around you laugh and smile with their partners. Ethan will leave you, not want to even acknowledge knowing you. Ivy will fear you, in case you lash out at her, rape her even because you’ll be so desperate. Everyone will hate you.”

“But, but you said my friends will never desert me.” Quavered Galahad.

“I lied!” The blonde mage sneered.

Well, that was physically painful. Is there some rule about gratiutously bringing up rape? There should be.

Aged 21, draft 4:
[...] He’d been dreaming of home, too. His chest tightened slightly: the blond man, now a recurring theme, had mentioned the curse.

Diligent sat up, pushing the heavy covers away from him. His nightshirt was damp with sweat, and the air was heavy around him. Shoving open the curtains on the bed didn’t help. He climbed out of the bed, the beginnings of a headache threatening at the back of his mind and a faint, unfamiliar nausea swimming inside of him. He stumbled over to the window and opened the shutters. The atmosphere remained oppressive, but the burst of raindrops that splattered across his face and chest was surprisingly welcome.

He arranged himself on the already wet window seat, leaning his forehead on the damp stone outside of the window and taking deep breaths of moist air through his mouth.

He wondered, one hand wrapped around the slimy wood of the shutter, if he was coming down with something. Maybe that was what the dreams harboured. He coughed, but felt neither better nor worse for it. Maybe he was just overheating as he slept.

He’d dreamt of flames; he’d dreamt of the blond watching them. It hadn’t been his home burning, though. No sense of what was on fire. Sometimes they had looked more like the blue of his Blessing than real fire. Again, always, that sense of knowing the blond. Handing the key to him.

[...]Diligent supposed he must have dozed off sitting upright, because he opened his eyes with a start and a mortal fear of Trusbury House. The watch and key were still firmly grasped in his lap, the window was still spitting rain at his feet. His heart was thudding, though, and he could feel the sweat on his skin. His breaths were fast and shallow.

[...]The blond face rose in his mind, the dreams leaving the imagined stranger linked with thoughts of his home. Maybe it was his father, Diligent realised. Maybe he was dreaming about his father. It would explain the guilt, the fear, and the knowing. It made sense. He was not ready to deal with what had happened to his father, and what it meant for himself. The curse.

And yet... No. Diligent refused to acknowledge the nagging doubt. He was dreaming about his father, that was all, and he was protecting himself from the dreams by changing the man a little. Making his father more like himself. Recognisable. It was just grief, that was all.

He fell asleep, wondering if he ought to cry.

Well, at the very least my grammar's improved!


Anonymous said...

Haha, I think much more than that has improved! Though I have to give your thirteen-year-old self props: way less useless adjectives and adverbs and stilted crap than my thirteen-year-old self was into. You were advanced!

But yes, the imagery is so vivid now, your style so pronounced and YOURS, it's really cool to see a similar situation (though you had trouble finding them, understandably enough) and how it's morphed with you. Then again, this is just the kind of stuff I find hopelessly interesting, so... you probably aren't surprised.


nkkingston said...

A lot of the story is very stilted, with wonderful lines of exposition like "Horses, Galahad mused, are one per lord in my family." Clunky, I think, is the best word for most of the first draft (and possibly 'plagiarism', considering some of the elements that were clearly stolen from books I was reading at the time). I always wrote a lot (I might already have had my first 100,000 words written by then - the 100,000 you're meant to write before you begint to write) and I read a great deal, but I was utterly blind to any faults and had no clue about the fact there were things I could do wrong. Rereading it later taught me a lot of them!

I'm not sure if I have what I'd call my own style, but I think my characters have now; it's great for Greenhelm, but when I start something new it can take a while to find the new voices.