where the writers are
One Paragraph, Three Drafts

I write many, many drafts as I work on a book. Recently, someone on Facebook asked writers to share different drafts of a single paragraph. I thought this would be an interesting exercise for me to share with you, my blog readers. I want to give credit to the Facebooker who suggested this, but I don't recall who it was, so I hope that person will read this post and step forward. Until then, here are three drafts of the same paragraph of my work-in-progress, currently titled The Lies We Told. We are in Maya's point of view here. I hope that seeing the first draft will encourage those of you who think you have to write something perfectly the first time!

 

Early Draft:

      A guy walked into the restaurant. She noticed him the second he walked in. there was something about him. the way he scanned the restaurant. unsmiling. a flare to his nostrils that reminded her of ___. His eyes came to rest on the two men at the table next to her and Adam's he walked toward the table with a deliberate stride, and she watched him pull a gun from his jacket pocket and before she could scream or duck or even widen her eyes, he'd shot the man at the table in the head. Everyone screamed then. She had a lot of company.

-------------- 

Middle Draft:

      Adam said something to Brent and Rebecca, but I didn't hear him. My gaze was on a man who had just walked into the restaurant. He was dark-haired, wearing a white t-shirt and beige pants and he stood in front of the door, looking from table to table. There was something about him that sent a shiver through me.

      He started walking toward us--or at least, I thought he was heading toward us. Then I saw that his gaze--his ice-blue eyes--was on the two men at the table adjacent to ours. Adam said something that must have been funny, because Brent and Rebecca both laughed, but I'd set down my fork and was beginning to tremble, my heart thudding beneath my breastbone.

     I knew how quickly these things could happen. He reached behind his back, then whipped his arm out straight, the gun a gray blur, and I saw the small symbol tattooed on his finger as as he pressed the trigger.

-------------- 

Final Draft:

       Adam said something in response, but I didn't hear him. I was watching a man who had just walked into the restaurant. He was Caucasian, dark-haired, wearing a white t-shirt and beige pants, and he stood in front of the door, shifting his gaze quickly from table to table. Something about him sent a shiver through me.

       He started walking toward us--or at least, I thought he was heading toward our table. His stride was deliberate, his nostrils flared. Then I saw that his eyes--his ice-blue eyes--were locked on the two men at the table in front of ours. Adam said something that must have been funny, because Brent and Rebecca both laughed, but I'd set down my spoon and was gripping the corner of the table, my heart thudding beneath my breastbone.

       I knew better than anyone how quickly these things could happen. He reached behind his back with his right hand, then whipped his arm out straight, the gun a gray blur as it cut through the air, and I saw the tattoo of a black star on his index finger as he pressed the trigger.

--------------

Even as I look at the final draft of this paragraph, I see things I want to change. Imagine 400 pages of this! No wonder I'm so tired. My deadline is next week, so soon I'll have to stop tinkering and send the finished product to my editor. For now, though, I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my world.   

       

Comments
1 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

never "done"

So often the final product is whatever exists when the deadline strikes, no?

Kate
www.marshallbooks.net