Saturday, February 5, 2011

You've Come a Long Way Blogfest

Christine H at  The Writer's Hole is hosting a fun blogfest & contest in celebration of the progress she has made in the 4 years she has been working on her novel. While I'm not one to work on a single novel at a time let alone for years, I certainly support those that are capable of doing such.

About the blogfest:

Anyone can enter the contest, but for those entering the blogfest the idea is to post something written awhile ago, first drafts and such. Then either post the rewrite or do the rewrite and then post. See how far your writing has come since that first version. Ideally, years of writing practice would make one better at it. So, post a section of a story and then show how much you have grown.

My entry is one that I have posted in a few different blogfests, both drafts. It's the only part of the YA novel I'm willing to share because it's also the first novel I will have ready to submit to agents. The first version was written during nanowrimo 2007.  Have I improved since then? Maybe. You'll have to let me know.

Draft 1 (2007)

"Look what I can do."

Why do they always show off? If only they would keep their new found tricks a secret, at least from me. Watching Levi Jareks spin a coin across the top of his notebook without touching it brings a sinking feeling to my stomach.

I will have to tell. The men in suits will arrive at my parents house some afternoon expecting me to share any "unordinary activities" that I had seen since their last visit.

Telling never bothered me, until now. Before it had been someone that I either didn't know, or didn't like. But this time it is different. Levi is one of the few that I can call a friend. He was the first one to talk to me when we started school that very first year and is the only one of my classmates that has been to my house.

I spend the rest of the day unable to concentrate. I keep looking at Levi, noticing different things about him that I had never noticed before. It's amazing what I ignored in the past.

During Mathematics, the unfortunate first class of the day, he isn't fully awake. Participation is at a minimum and halfway through the class it seems he has found more interest in the back of his eyelids instead of the greenish sea floating with white math problems. Levi's blonde hair soon pools upon his wrist as his forehead finds the sandy-toned desktop.

At this point I feel a bit weird. I should try and ignore him. It will be easier to place distance, to make things easier for me when he is taken by them. But I can't seem to pull myself away. I guess I want to etch everything about Levi into my mind in case he doesn't return. Most do, but there is a small chance that he won't.

After lunch, Levi has more energy than three kids combined. He must have had a sugared item in his pre-packed blue-boxed meal. His hand shoots up before Mr. Mann can finish his questions on ancient cultures and history. This energy follows to Literature class and in that one he sits behind me. His foot keeps a steady hum of motion against the back of my seat as the teacher drones on about the creation of the new literary limitations.

The final episode of the day happens during Fine Art. The energy expelled for most of the afternoon has lulled to an even level. I try to work on my pointillism but can't concentrate. Every single dot I make with the marker comes dangerously close to the ones already on the page. If I keep working in this manner, my picture will end up a solid mass instead of the fluttery dot mess that the assignment requires. Levi sits across from me on the long table that serves as our desk in the studio.

Every couple of minutes he glances up at me and our eyes meet. My face feels on fire but I can't look away. He never says anything about my odd behavior but he smiles each time he looks up. A queasy feeling twirls in the pit of my stomach. All I can think about is how I know his secret and the fact that my knowing will hurt him.

Draft 2 (2010-11)

A shiny copper coin spun across the school lunch table, almost grazing Ephram's left knuckle. He glanced up from his book he was reading to see that the coin didn't stop spinning or even slow down. Some unnatural force had to cause the movements and that could only mean one thing. His stomach sank at the thought.

"Look what I can do."

Levi stands on the other side of the table, a group surrounding him while he holds his hand above the spinning coin. As he concentrates, the coin changes directions. The spin slows down to an almost impossible rotation speed before increasing again.

Only one thing could give Levi that ability and that one thing makes Ephram sink in dread. It meant mutation. Under any other circumstances, he would feel relief to find another one like him, but that's not the case. Only one thing happens when he sees someone else with a genetic mutation and that one thing was a report to the men in suits.

"What do you think, Eph-man?"

The use of Levi's nickname for him brings Ephram's attention back to the moment. He looks up at Levi as he tries to come up with a good response. "Uh, yeah. Neat." He did his best to hide the fear that had started to build within.

It was only a matter of time before the suits would be at Ephram's parents' house and he'd have no choice. He had to tell them whenever he saw any new mutant activity no matter the age, type of mutation or any possible association. His friendship with Levi wouldn't be enough to keep him from having to tell. All he could do is hope that he would come back; not all returned.

Sounds of bells echoing from the building save him. Grabbing his books, he is able to run inside and not have to say anything more to his friend.

Math is his unfortunate first class of the day and one of the many he shares with Levi. Even though it's a subject Ephram does well at, he is unable to focus today. His mind drifts in and out as he pays more attention to Levi than the teacher.

Half way through the class, Levi glances back. He smiles and makes a beak shape with his hand, moving it open and closed.

Ephram smiles but it is fake. The joke is an old one of theirs because Levi always said that the math teacher talks too much and while he once thought it was funny, all he can think about is the soon to be betrayal. It had never bothered him to tell on others to the men in suits. This time, however, is different. He feels aching sensations but knows no cure. As he continues to focus on Levi, another feeling is added to the mix: awkwardness. He's never focused on someone so long before and feels weird. It's almost like he'd never looked a Levi before. He sees him in a whole new light with no idea how to understand the feelings that mixed within.

"Turn in your assignments." The teacher quit writing on the board long enough to get the attention of most the class by her demand.


~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

It's always such an interesting experiment to shift a scene from first person to third.

I liked both of these excerpts! I felt more intimacy with Ephram in the first person version, but I thought the emotional impact from both characters, and the chemistry between them, was more apparent in the second. Very interesting!

Best of luck with the project!

Michelle Gregory said...

i liked them both as well. great job.

A. Grey said...

To me, the first excerpt felt like the person speaking was much older, or wasn't human (I do a lot with fantasy, and it felt very dispassionate, almost the way many people portray elves in regard to humans) but there was something I LIKED about that dispassionate feeling. As if the narrator knew way more than a kid was supposed to know.

I liked the second excerpt better. Some people don't like present tense. But I do. If done right, I LOVE it, and I've written several things in present tense. I did notice though that the first paragraph of the second excerpt isn't in present tense, then the rest is, but the very last sentence has the past tense of 'quit' rather than 'quits'. It's just a quibble and something that happens all the time. I find myself doing it if I flipflop WIPs between on written present tense and one written past tense.

Anonymous said...

This story sounds very intriguing. Like Nicole, I like the intimacy of the second version, but think I'd like the POV better in first person, especially since it's told in present tense.

I'd definitely keep reading...

Dawn Embers said...

Thanks for the comments.

Nicole - Very true. The switch has been interesting. I like the intimacy and immediacy of the first person version but I'm not very good at it. Plus as a series I think it will be better in third. I may have to tone down the chemistry, lol. Supposed to just be friendships in book 1.

Michelle - Glad you liked them.

A. Grey - Thanks for the comments. Age is something I'm working on since I also write adult novels. And I often write in past tense, so there are many tense slips throughout the draft. I may have to do a tense only edit as soon as I finish this.

writesbymoonlight - Thanks. I'm still not sure I'll keep the present tense or not. For the second draft, I figured since I was changing the pov I would keep the tense for now to less complicate things. We'll see what happens in edit.

Christopher S. Ledbetter said...

I think there's a little more tension in the second. And you're right, it is always interesting to switch POV's. I think a series would work either way.

Dawn Embers said...

Christopher - I considered it working in first person as a series when I wrote this draft but that was before I had the adult mutant series as well. With the different main characters that will come out and the fact I don't really care for first person, it's probably going to be better in third. Thanks for commenting on my entry.

Elaine AM Smith said...

The feel of the piece changed when you switched to third person. The distance seemed to suit the story - perhaps it was your confidence in your writing growing.
Thanks for posting :)

Anonymous said...

I like present tense too!! This is certainly an interesting premise--I love sci-fi fantasy stuff!!! :)

Dawn Embers said...

Elaine AM - Thanks for commenting. :-)

Ibdiamond - Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. :-D

Simon C. Larter said...

I'm pretty sure I've read excerpts of this before, m'dear. I liked the concept then, and I like it now. It's a great start for a novel!

Dawn Embers said...

Simon - Indeed, you have seen both excerpts before. Thanks for commenting again and I'm really glad you like them.

Charli Mac said...

Present tense works when done well, and you got it. My MS is written in dual POV. It adds a more complex layer, IMO. Bravo, great job.

Dawn Embers said...

Charli - Thank you. :-D I'm glad you like it.


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