Evolution of an Extract

I thought it might be interesting to share the edited version of the extract I previously released before Christmas, to show the changes it has since gone through—how it has evolved through editing.

This was done at the start of the year, and I can tell by re-reading it now for the first time since then that it will change again, as I’m still not entirely happy with it. (And again and again, most likely.)

Even now, as I’m editing my first 100,000+ plus words of Everborne, I’m revisiting chapters and leaving them with the feeling they’ve been vastly improved—and only leaving them once I do. No doubt when I return to them in a month-and-a-bit’s time, I’ll see them with fresh eyes and think, Right, this needs to change!

The edited version of the extract may only be 19 words shorter, but a lot more words were taken out before new ones were added. Even this seemingly slight change has made a big difference—well, I hope!

My main problem with the original extract was that it was too wordy—a bit too flowery. I had the image I wanted to present, but it wasn’t quite there yet. It was slightly out-of-focus. I wanted the sentences to be sharper. I knew they should be leaner, slicker, too. Oddly enough, more words doesn’t guarantee better writing. It may sound stupid, but sometimes it’s the words you lose that create meaning, more than the ones you keep. I’ve found writing is a bit like sculpting (not that I’m a sculptor), as it’s about chipping away the block in front of you to find the shape beneath.

Both versions of the same extract are below—the opening of Chapter One—with the most recently edited version on top and the first draft beneath. I hope you enjoy.

Edited Draft

Chapter One

The Newcomer

1

You would spend a long time searching along the veiny maze of vertical paths cut into the cliff, only to end up lost and not just stuck but utterly screwed. It is not uncommon to find shattered chunks of sun-sucked bone, scattered a thousand feet below the forest-frosted peak that points way.

Daily rains lash slanted arrows that aim for the eyes and summon fog. A slick sandstone surface would be the least of your troubles, as paths turn at random into rapids from the sudden spears of spurting water.

Perhaps it’s the one you’re on, a hundred — two hundred — feet up.

Or it might be one of the indistinguishable few that end not with a gaping view of foggy, shrunken forest skewered by pillared stone, but at the plateau’s peak, where the land is shaped like the reverse side of a round shield.

A restraining neckline of rain-thrashed, wind-blasted bushes interrupts the sallow fall of cliff below. Guarded fans of green flop over the plateau as it strikes out in sharp angles, like the warning thrusts of a pike.

You can forget the five finger-like pillars that adjoin dwarfingly to the north. Like those in the unending rows around them, they are inaccessible from the forest floor.

If it is dry and clear, you might spot on the tip of the outermost finger a lonely fire notched in the night, like a remote comet trapped with its tail licking high above its smudged, blazing core.

Up there, only constellations of flies are drawn from out of the dark.

First Draft

Chapter One

The Newcomer

1

You would spend a long time searching along the veiny maze of vertical paths cut into the cliff, only to end up lost and not just stuck but utterly screwed. It is not uncommon to find the sun-sucked bones of shattered, scattered skeletons a thousand feet below the forest-frosted peak that points away.

Daily rains lash slanted arrows that aim for the eyes and summon fog. A slick sandstone surface would be the least of your troubles, as sudden waterfalls appear in spears of spurting water, turning paths at random into rapids. Perhaps it’s the one you’re on, a hundred feet up. Or, maybe, it’s one of the indistinguishable few that end not with a gaping view of foggy, shrunken forest, but at the plateau’s peak, where the land is shaped like the reverse side of a round shield and bounded by sheer, overhanging cliffs. Several hundred uninterrupted feet down, a restraining neckline of rain-drowned, wind-blasted bushes flops guarded fans of green over the plateau as it strikes out in sharp angles, like the warning thrusts of a pike.

You can forget the five finger-like pillars that adjoin dwarfingly in the north. They are inaccessible from the forest floor. On one of the outermost fingers, a fire can be seen notched in the night, if it is dry and clear, like a distant comet trapped with its tail licking high above its smudged, blazing core.

The newcomer survived the climb, arriving in the night of a world already changed, a hooded and cloaked harbinger of the change to come. A voice not the newcomer’s own had said Reach them before it arrives. There is still time. They must be warned.

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