The Evolution of a Scene in TWR

10:49 PM

 



Greetings from the cave! 

So, this post is sorta an announcement post, sorta a regular post, sorta a random post? 

Basically, I'm working on TWR edits again for Camp NaNo. I took a "break" sometime in late February because I ran out of motivation and I really need to get back into it. Luckily, Camp NaNo exists for this very purpose. 

And so today, instead of doing my usual introduction-to-my-project post, I'm going to be changing it up a little. I'm going to let you guys have a sneak peek into my editing process, at least up until this point. Alphas and Betas....y'all are in for a surprise at the end :).  

Many many moons ago, another blogger did a post similar to this. I want to say it was Jane Maree when she was writing her story A Sprig of Green. It has been so long, that I could well be mistaken. Whatever the case, I am stealing the idea. 

The scene that I am highlighting is in the 5th chapter, between two characters: Ealdread, who is one of my MC's and Ainsley, a secondary character who acts as a councilman to Ealdread. It is the scene that also sets up Ealdread's arc in the entire novel. 

I'm going to go through and put out the first draft first, complete with spelling and grammar errors. So prepare for the awfulness. Like seriously, it's bad. 


Draft 1 (original)

(Note: this is the original original version of this scene, just how I had first jotted it down from my imagination. The "first draft" went under quite a few renovations before being pronounced complete. Alphas got v.6, to give you an idea. Never doing that again, that was a horrible idea. Since the versions of this scene are nearly identical in v.6 of Draft 1 and Draft 2, I pulled v.1's version of this scene for comparison).  

“May I remind you, Your Majesty, that you are fast approaching your fourth decade of life? And that you have no heir to the throne?”

“mmmm, funny, I thought that was still about 5 years away.”

“Five years is not that much time compared to decades, Your Majesty. No Leofwine King, in all the years of the line’s existence, has ever NOT had an heir by this time in his life! Why should you be the first to break such an illustrious tradition?”

“If you must know, my dear advisor, I have not found a bride that suited me. All of the “eligible” women that you and the council have paraded before me have either been stuck-up, silly, or…..” He paused briefly, gesturing as if to catch the word that was escaping him. “Slinky!”

The advisor’s eyebrows raised as he swallowed his amusement.

“Why must I have an heir born to me anyway? Why can’t I just appoint a distant cousin or something?

“Have you forgotten your history, your Majesty? If you have no natural heir, you are at risk for assassination and usurpation! Not to mention breaking…”

“an illustrious tradition. I know.” Ealdread chimed in as the old councilman finished. “Well, why can’t I marry an “uneligible” female then, if you and the council are so adamant on my marrying?”

“Because the dynastic laws and tradition forbid the mingling of royal and common blood.”

“Ceberlandon’s royals intermingle with common blood all the time, and their line contains more meritous people than ours! Why should we be different?”

“Your Majesty…I didn’t create the dynastic laws. I only enforce them.”

“Yes, and you are doing a splendid job of it.” Ealdread laid his hands on the councilman’s shoulders.    


Okay wow. Looking back on this...this is a trip. 

This is why first drafts are not published, people.

I'm going to address the elephant in the room first: Ealdread's age. In this version, he was 35, which I admit now is just....not as good of an idea as it was when I first thought this out. As I was to find out later, being overdramatic in character reactions is dangerous these days. 

Also, yes, I draft dialogue first. Because for some reason, my character's voices come first rather than their mannerisms. Or their actions. 

So....moving on to Draft 2!! 

(changes will be in bold)

Draft 2 (Alpha Version)

But there he was again, at full tilt. “May I remind you, King Ealdread, that you are fast approaching your fourth decade of life? And that you have no heir to the throne?”

“Mmmm, funny, the last time I consulted a calendar, my 40th year was still several years away.” Ealdread pushed himself away from the window ledge and walked briskly down the length of the barracks. His hands mechanically selected the container of shining salve for his sword, and his box of fire-starting materials. He also made a mental note to pack up some thicker shirts, as the Karala Games were to be several weeks long.

The nasally unwelcome voice of the councilman cut in again. “Seven years is not that much time compared to decades, Your Majesty. No Leofwine monarch, for all the years of the line’s existence, has ever NOT had an heir by this time in his life! Why should you be the first to break such an illustrious tradition?”

Ealdread threw down the map of Sidabras he was attempting to stuff in his pack. “If you must know, my dear Councilman Ainsley, I have not found a bride that suited me. All of the “eligible” women that you and the rest of the council have paraded before me have either been stuck-up, silly, or…” He paused briefly, gesturing as to catch the word that was escaping him. “Slinky!”

The advisor’s eyebrows raised as he swallowed his amusement.

“Why must I have an heir born to me anyway? Why can’t I just appoint a distant cousin or something? I’m sure that there are plenty of men in the other branches of the family who could lead Aistaraina just as well if not better than I could.”

“Have you forgotten your history, your Majesty? A kingdom never takes a good direction if it is passed to a different family – matter of fact, it almost always worsens. And if you have no natural heir, you are at risk of being assassinated and having the kingdom usurped! Not to mention breaking….”

“An illustrious tradition. I know.” Ealdread chimed in as the old councilman finished. “Well, why can’t I marry an “ineligible” female then, if you and the council are so adamant on my marrying?”

“Because the dynastic laws and Aistarainian tradition forbid the mingling of royal and common blood.”

Ealdread threw up his hand in evident frustration. “Ceberlandon and even Duventoliel’s royals intermingle with common blood all the time, and their royal lines contain more meritorious people than ours! We’re the only High Kingdom that adheres to this ridiculous tradition, why should we be so different?”

“Your Majesty…” Councilman Ainsley patiently sighed. “I didn’t create the dynastic laws. I only enforce them.”

“Yes, and you are doing a splendid job of it.” Ealdread laid his hands on the old councilman’s shoulders briefly before leaving the room. In his agitation, he left the bag that he had been packing before.

 

What Changed: 

- Ainsley has a name!!!! Believe it or not, I actually didn't have a name for this character in my first draft. A technicality that was shortly remedied, believe me. 

- Dialogue tags now exist. 

- A lot more world-building. And I don't mean just the physical setting of the room, I also mean some of the political and social norms of Aistaraina and Duventoliel. 

- There is more characterization, especially for Ealdread. 


The age thing didn't really change too much in this draft because this was before I did research on actual age-gap romances and romantic chemistry and all that. Looking back, having that age right out there, even if it was only implied, does give me a bit of a twinge

This is when I decided to lower Ealdread's age by a couple of years. I didn't want to lower it too much because the maturity is part of his character....but my alphas were giving me the evil eye. So I made a concession in Draft 3 with hopes that it would be better....hopefully. 


Draft 3 (Beta Version)

But there he was again, at full tilt. “May I remind you, King Ealdread, that the prime of your life is passing before you? And that you have no heir to the throne?”

“Mmmm, funny, according to the last time I consulted a calendar, I have only begun my third decade of life.” Ealdread pushed himself away from the window ledge and walked briskly down the length of the barracks. As he attempted to shut out Ainsley’s criticisms, his hands mechanically selected the container of shining salve for his sword and his box of fire-starting materials. A slight shiver from the cool breeze forced a mental note to pack up some thicker shirts for the autumn journey back.

The nasally unwelcome voice of the councilman cut in again. “If you would consult it again, you would discover that you have less than three years before the dynastic deadline. No Leofwine monarch, for all the years of the line’s existence, has ever not had an heir by this time in his life! Why should you be the first to break such an illustrious tradition?”

Ealdread threw down the map of Sidabras he was attempting to stuff in his pack. “If you must know, my dear Councilman Ainsley, I have not found a bride that suited me. All of the “eligible” women that you and the rest of the council have paraded before me have either been stuck-up, silly, or…” He paused briefly, gesturing as to catch the word that was escaping him. “Slinky!”

The advisor’s eyebrows raised as he swallowed his amusement.

“Why must I have an heir born to me anyway? Why can’t I just appoint a distant cousin or something? I’m sure that there are plenty of men in the other branches of the family who could lead Aistaraina just as well if not better than I could.”

“Have you forgotten your history, your Majesty? A kingdom never takes a good direction if it is passed to a different family – matter of fact, it almost always worsens. And if you have no natural heir, you are at risk of being assassinated and having the kingdom usurped! Not to mention breaking….”

“An illustrious tradition. I know.” Ealdread chimed in sharply as the old councilman finished. “Well, why can’t I marry an “ineligible” female then, if you and the council are so adamant on my marrying?”

“Because the dynastic laws and Aistarainian tradition forbid the mingling of royal and common blood.”

Ealdread threw up his hand in evident frustration. “Ceberlandon and even Duventoliel’s royals intermingle with common blood all the time, and their royal lines contain more meritorious people than ours! We’re the only High Kingdom that adheres to this ridiculous tradition, why should we be so different?”

“Your Majesty…” Councilman Ainsley patiently sighed. “I didn’t create the dynastic laws. I only enforce them.”

“Yes, and you are doing a splendid job of it.” Ealdread laid his hands on the old councilman’s shoulders briefly before leaving the room. In his agitation, he left the bag that he had been packing earlier.


What Changed: 

- Most of the direct indicators to Ealdread's age were removed. But not enough not to raise eyebrows. 

- Snarky banter was added. 

This was the version that got sent to the editor, along with my beta readers. I'll be honest, I didn't know how I was going to improve this scene at first. My editor had harped to me about the ages, which I found quite annoying after having made so many concessions beforehand. I had two choices - lower the age gap again or cloak the ages even further than I had. After some advice from the betas and many many nights of pondering, I decided to do the latter. The age gap, while eyebrow-raising to modern sensibilities, is an INTEGRAL part of my story. And I'm not writing just some fantasy story, it's MY fantasy story. Call me stubborn, but I'm stickin' to it.  

But really, even with two rounds of editing, it definitely could've used more improvement. So taking Michelle's advice to heart, I came up with this latest draft, which to date no one has seen (not even my alphas). So you're in for a sneak peek of what this draft is like. 

Are you ready? 


Draft 4 (Post Editor)

But the man was at it again, and even more so. “May I stress to you, King Ealdread, that with every passing day, your dynastic deadline looms closer? And that you still have no queen to bear you an heir?”

Ealdread attempted to tamp down his temper as he pushed himself away from the ledge. “I assure you, Councilman, that I intend to remedy that situation before any grey hairs appear on my head.” If he doesn’t give them to me before I leave, that is, he tacked on in thought as he walked to his own private locker on the other side of the barracks. Gathering a bag, Ealdread selected a container of shining salve and a box of fire-starting materials.

“You have said this several times before and it has come to nothing.” The unwelcome nasally voice of the councilman cut in again. “Never has a Leofwine monarch waited to marry as long as you! From the Aelvish father Daermaethor onward, no king has ever not had an heir by this time in his life! Why should you be the first to break such an illustrious tradition?

Ealdread threw down the map of Sidabras that he was attempting to stuff in his pack. “If you must know, my dear Councilman Ainsley, I have not found a bride that suited me. All of the ‘eligible’ women that you and the rest of the council have paraded before me have either been snobbish, silly, or…” He paused briefly, gesturing as to catch the word that was escaping him. “Slinky!”

The councilman’s eyebrows rose as he swallowed his amusement.

“Why must I have an heir born to me anyway? Why can’t I appoint a distant cousin or something? I’m sure that there are plenty of men in the other branches of the family who could lead Aistaraina just as well, if not better, than I could.”

“Have you forgotten your history, your Majesty? A son takes the traditions of the father and passes them down through the ages, preserving peace. A kingdom never takes a good direction if it is passed to a different family. In fact, it always worsens. And since you have no natural heir, you are also at risk of being assassinated and having the kingdom usurped! Not to mention breaking…”

“An illustrious tradition, I know,” Ealdread chimed in sharply. “Well, why can’t I marry an ‘ineligible’ woman then, if you and the council are so adamant on my marrying?”

“Because the dynastic laws and Aistarainian tradition forbid the mingling of royal and common blood.”

Ealdread threw up his hand in frustration. “Ceberlandon and Duventoliel’s royals intermingle with common blood all the time and their royal lines contain more virtuous people than ours! We’re the only High Kingdom that adheres to this ridiculous tradition. Why should we be so different?”

“Your Majesty,” Councilman Ainsley patiently replied with a sigh. “I didn’t create the dynastic laws. I only enforce them.”

“Yes, and you are doing a splendid job of it.” Ealdread tossed aside the bag and laid his hands on the old councilman’s shoulders briefly before leaving the room. 


What Changed: 

- Elvish got changed to Aelvish, in an attempt at originality and closer ties to Aelfdyn, the name of the actual race of creatures

- The direct references to Ealdread's age were entirely eliminated and gave more of an impression on his maturity but still maintained that he wasn't too old. 

- More specific world-building has been put in. 

- The need for a wife has been emphasized, which helps solidify Ealdread's motivation. 

- "Stuck-up" became "snobbish" and "meritious" became "virtuous". Altogether better word choices. 


All in all, I'm quite happy with the way that it is right now. Will it change before it is published? Maybe. But I'm really excited to see the rest of the novel be just like that snippet, if not better. 

Sooooooo....whatcha think of this crazy post? Like it, not like it? Alphas/betas, what do you think of my surprise? 

Scribbingly yours, 

Catherine

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10 comments

  1. Ainsley my boi! *flails* He cracks me up so much.

    This may be one of my favorite scenes in the book. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, these two still make me laugh. Ainsley is getting a slightly bigger role in this draft.

      It's one of my favorites too, and I think it was the very first scene that I wrote too. Ergo, it's being kept at all costs.

      Delete
  2. This was so fun to read! I loved seeing the changes you went through...and it definitely got a lot better from first draft to the most recent one, if you don't mind me saying so. :)
    Editing is always a challenge, so I really enjoyed seeing a bit of your process (or the results of your process, I guess?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, thanks!! I'm glad there was some improvement! Sometimes when you're so deep into it, it's hard to see it.

      Delete
  3. So neat to see how it transformed. Your first drafts are far better than mine.
    The editing phase changes so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I protest! You are seeing only a small portion that is actually somewhat coherent. The rest is absolute chaos, I tell you. Just ask Lia and MK.
      It is amazing how much editing changes a passage though, LOL.

      Delete
  4. Oh this was fun! Nice to know I'm not the only one writing almost 100% dialogue first drafts, haha....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, I'm so glad you liked it!! And haha, dialogue is such a good anchor point, isn't it??

      Delete
  5. Whoa, Catherine!! Well, I can tell you for sure that I wasn't suspecting that big of a change with removing the exact age! I like it. I like it a lot. So I'm sorry about all of the complaining that we all did because of that...

    I remember this scene! It is so much fun to see the edits each time! I never save my documents this often but maybe I should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pssh, don't apologize! Your feedback was extremely important and came at a crucial time. I'd much rather deal with the criticism NOW while this baby is still growing rather than publish it in it's imperfect form and get a lot of bad reviews because of it. Quite honestly, Michelle's feedback was what finally pushed me to fix it. She made me realize that there was an overall sense that Ealdread was much older than he really was and it put him in an awkward spot for readers. That was something that was probably picked up by you guys too, even if it wasn't clear from the feedback.

      LOL, saving all the drafts/rewriting in a different draft file was something that I learned from other authors and there is definitely wisdom in doing that. Not just for seeing what changes but also for figuring out what works and what doesn't. Old drafts can be mines for characteristics and plot things too, as I discovered with TMC last fall.

      Delete

How are you, dear friend? Come closer to the fire, and make yourself comfortable! I'd love to hear what you've been thinking about, even if it's an old post! I only ask that proper decorum be observed.

I always try to reply to my correspondence! Have a blessed day!
~ Catherine

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