A question on the forums had me dragging out my first book to see how far I’ve come ( or not *gulp* ) in my writing. It was definitely eye opening. I took some pictures. Check out this behemoth.
I wrote it back in the early 90's when I was around 14. I’m having issues trying to date this ( I never wrote dates on anything. And there are about 4 10-30 page outlines I had done of the story previous to writing this draft which is throwing me off on the dates. ) I got inspired by Twin Peaks which was inspired by old movies and my ms bares a lot of similar themes ( both with old movies and Twin Peaks ) - There are serial murders, and a quirky detective, lots of strange folklore, an amnesia theme, and a sort of horror/surrealism. It took a year or two to write ( dates evade me. ) But the final result is a block of paper almost as high as your average Dr. Pepper can. Lol.
Ew that yellow paper, you can tell I just grabbed anything because chapters written after look older. But I had a habit of grabbing any paper I could find. I’m really going to have to transcribe it onto a computer or something - Some of the paper is so cheap, ditto the pens that some of the words are pretty faded.
Notice how I tabbed the chapters, I kinda like that. I’m terribly organized so I not only tabbed the chapters, I named them to keep track of things. There are 44 chapters. In later drafts I tried to whittle them down to 32 but they ballooned up to 53. Every time I got rid of something it seemed like some new character took it's place or a new scene filled the gap. The shortest chapter is 3 pages long and the longest chapter in the world - look at that sucker was - 665 pages.
A novel within a novel.
One thing that made me nostalgic for the time when I wrote this was how into the writing I got. I wrote so much so fast that the ink would run out in my pen and rather than search for another I’d grab anything that I could find- in this page it happens to be a navy pencil crayon - and kept going. Gah! The dedication. Here's the pen starting to fade - but it picks up and - says Nice to meet you Farrell is now in navy pencil crayon.
And rather than loose momentum - here's the next page in pencil crayon ( lol ) -
- *Groan* That dialogue! So cheesy. Notice the random note at the top of the page to remind me of something I missed. Ragged Robin, a flower, happened to be some important clue in the serial murders. Not quite sure what's it doing on this page.
At first glance over my story, I cringed ( and am still cringing over that dialogue ) , then I kinda gave myself a break. It wasn’t the day and age ( for me anyway ) of computers, or backspace, erase, or delete. I just flooded the page and to hell with coherency. Plus, I wasn’t the best student in the world, I wouldn’t know an adverb or modifier if they angrily bit me on my skinny behind.
On the page below, I circled and underlined some stuff. Note how I was doing the present tense thing back there ( doesn’t sound half as good though. It sounds very script-y. ) And apparently I loved hammy ideas -- lol.
- Also, I loved the dash. Rather than indent a paragraph I just used a dash, same for the start of dialogue which I never bothered to use quotes on. And I hated speech tags ( huh, still do ) so they didn’t always show up, clouding who the hell was speaking. Notice the circled Help...me that's actually supposed to be a thought but there's no distinction. I didn't bother printing in italic.
I attempted a second draft of this story and got as far as the 26 chapter - 600 pages in, oh I didn’t tell you how long this book was - 2178 pages. I decided to hunt up some paperbacks to show you the equivalent size wise. I chose some hefty horrors approx 400-500 pages a piece, but despite the fact that there are four paperbacks - I’m still 90 pages over them in length.
I would love to say I got much more word concise but when I attempted a second draft - it wound up running almost parallel in length. Which doesn’t sound too bad until you learn that I ditched five characters, lots of scenes and I developed a nastier habit than the dash. Instead of using the dash I wrote everything in a huge block on the page. No paragraph indents, no distinction in dialogue patterns just words. That second draft is more unreadable than the first draft. Fortunately this all took place in the early to mid 90's. And I've gotten better with my layout, word choices and hopefully grammar.
Good things I noticed - despite my awful spelling, fluky grammar, and tendency to slip into present tense - were those quirky touches I love which I thought had only come about recently. A lot of things didn’t work but I love that I tried and that I keep on trying. - Here’s one line -Just wanted to show everyone that even a bad, overwinded draft is better than nothing. I'm glad I kept it all these years. There were times when I wanted to burn it or throw it out but it's shown me that I was on the right track in finding my style, there were many years when I wanted to cave but somehow that same quirky voice has fought it's way through. And at the very least it's shown how much I've grown in my writing.
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