Today’s post I’m taking the opportunity to illustrate to you how different a book becomes through rewrites, using Life Reader as my example.
I finished the first draft of Life Reader eight years ago. Back then it was called Page Turner, and instead of going undercover as a preppy girl, Raven went undercover as a mousy teenage boy. Isaac Eastgate did not exist, Daire Eastgate was the library’s teenage director, and the Errësi were called the Facade Squad. (Yeah, I know, dorky.) I edited it, but then it sat on my computer for approximately 5 years. Back then the plot of the story was Raven was after a (fictional) artifact called the drops of pretense. Bluntly put the plot was horrible.
I took another look at it and decided that the teenage boy front wasn’t working very well, so I switched it to the pretty chick masquerade you all know of today. I also realized the drops of pretense bit was really awkward and really stupid, so I switched the artifact to a (fictional) music box. While that created a major overhaul for the entire story, I didn’t change much else.
Again Page Turner sat on my computer for about a year and a half. I took another look at it and followed some advice, booting Daire out of his spot as the teenage director. I added Director Isaac Eastgate and Alison–the children’s librarian. I also changed a ton of the name schemes–the lame-o name of Facade Squad was one of the first to go–I removed William from the line up of hired page turner employees and made him a trainee due to his age, and I deleted two characters: Raven’s dog and Raven’s little brother. Neither the dog nor the little brother served much of a purpose. I thought I would have to do a major rewrite of all family scenes since the little brother was gone, but I was shocked to discover he was only in three scenes total, which means I made the right decision to give him the axe. I took out two side characters–they were not completely deleted as they will be appearing in the next Life Reader book–and I finally redrafted the plot so Raven was chasing after Macbeth’s Cauldron.
This final rewrite of Life Reader got rid of all traces of Page Turner. A few snippets of dialog remain from the original rendition of Page Turner, and almost all of the characters are still in the story, but none of the scenes and actual writing remain from Page Turner. Essentially the two are different books. That is how radical rewriting a book can be.
Not all of my books go through this extensive rewriting process. Red Rope of Fate was never rewritten, just edited. The books I rewrite tend to be books that are longer, more complex, and have a lot of characters. Life Reader is my most elaborate example of a rewrite. Princess Ahira was rewritten as well. It went through one major overhaul, which changed the last third of the book. Characters and names remained intact, the biggest point of the draft was to tighten up the writing and to radically change the end of the book.
I’ve decided to suck it up, dispose of my pride, and provide a small sample of the original Page Turner for you, Champions. This sample will show just how important the rewriting process can be. (The writing? Yeah it’s bad.) Thanks for reading, and please have a good laugh.
“What time is it?” Raven asked herself.
“I dunno. Do you Aron?” another voice asked.
Raven whirled around to be greeted by the recovered twins. “Oh, hi,” she said.
“What are you doing all the way back here?” one asked, holding a box in his arms.
“I was cleaning off the bookshelves, but I decided to take a break,” Raven responded.
The one on the left raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Why don’t you come hang out in the computer room with us? Today is really slow, so the Odd One decided we could use it as ‘bonding time’.”
“I see, I guess I could…Asher,” Raven said, frowning.
“Aron,” the twin said unabashedly. “Come on!” he shouted, grabbing her by the arm and hauling her out of the fiction section.
When they walked down the corridor Raven was greeted by all of the Library Boys. Daire was sitting behind the desk, looking at some paperwork; Jeremiah was spinning around in a spinning chair; Royce was leaning back in a chair, his hat tipped over his eyes, and Brannon and William were reverently discussing the newest software.
“Dad gave us some more ‘strange artifacts’,” Asher said, tossing the box onto the floor.
“Does your father even have clearance to take these things home?” William suspiciously asked as Jeremiah gave a violent shudder.
“Probably not. Those things should be outlawed!” Jeremiah said in a hushed tone.
“They are outlawed, that’s how Dad gets them,” Aron carelessly drawled. Raven was quite surprised, usually the twins were subdued and terse around the rest of the group, but today they were quite civil.
“I don’t think I understand what’s going on,” Raven said, scratching her head.
“Our Dad is on the board of Strange and Mystical Artifacts. He’s the head executive so whenever he gets a minor outlawed artifact he brings them home for us to play around with,” Asher said, sitting down and propping his legs up on an empty table.
“Usually it’s just really old stuff that is either extremely rare, or harmful, which is why it’s outlawed. Most of the time it’s stuffy boring things like paintings, furniture that bites, and musty scrolls. But every once in a while we get some good stuff,” Aron snickered, glancing toward Jeremiah who let out a small mew.
“The twins usually test stuff on Jeremiah,” William said, leaning over to whisper in Raven’s ear.
“So what did you bring today?” Royce asked, poking a corner of the box with his foot.
“Junk mostly,” Asher said, flipping through a magazine. “Hey Dad, do we have anyone coming in this morning?”
“Dad?” Raven echoed.
Daire resisted the nickname a moment before he gave in and looked up. “We have a total of ten users signed up for the day. Two have already come,” he droned before returning his attention to the papers.
“Dad?” Raven repeated.
“Recently the twins have taken to calling Daire “Dad” since he sort of is. I mean, he’s stricter than my own father for pages’ sake!” Jeremiah exclaimed, rolling his eyes.
“Dad, why don’t you give up the hermit role for once and talk?” Aron asked. “I know that Saint Cloud Library can’t have that much paperwork,” he scoffed.
Daire resisted the nickname again before he raised an eyebrow. “Would you like to find out?”
“No,” Asher and Aron said, rolling their eyes in unison.
“Sheesh. You don’t have to be such a grouch,” Asher grunted.
“I’m hungry!” Brannon announced.
“You’re always hungry,” Aron growled.
“Great going Daire, you’ve put the spawns in a foul mood!” Jeremiah cried.
“It’s past eleven o’clock right? We can eat soon,” Royce drawled.
Brannon cheered, the twins scowled, and Jeremiah quivered in his chair.
“So William, is this normal?” Raven asked, turning to the younger boy.
William shrugged. “I guess. Usually the twins get violent and torture Jeremiah, if they can catch him.”
Raven blinked. “Oh,” she said, turning her gaze straight ahead once more.
“Hey Odd One!” Asher called, standing.
“We’ve got about half an hour till we’ll eat,” Aron said, a smirk sliding across his features.
“Wanna do something?” Asher asked, an identical grin creeping across his lips.
“No!” Jeremiah assured them, standing to run behind Daire.
The twins gave each other vague looks of irritation, before turning to look for William. The small boy had already positioned himself next to Brannon, who was cheerfully and obliviously beaming.
Royce had saddled up next to Jeremiah, leaving only Raven unprotected.
“Um, I’m sick?” Raven suggested.
They closed in on her like lions in a kill.
“Come on, Rai!” Aron chided.
“Let’s go do something,” Asher jeered.
“I think I’ll go get my lunch ready,” Raven quickly said before slipping out of their clutches and scurrying off to the kitchen.