Work in Progress Wednesday #2: A Tale of Two Drafts

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to post an excerpt from a work in progress! I’ve missed a couple Wednesdays because I’ve been outlining and doing research for my novel. I’ve also had to completely rewrite some portions, which is what I’ll share in this post.

I’m going to present the first page from an earlier draft of my novel, The Weight of the Impossible, alongside the first page of the most current draft. I want people to see the differences between the two drafts and how revision can dramatically improve a piece of writing.

So, here’s the first page from the earlier draft:

She has to fucking ruin everything, he thinks. A miasma of perfume hangs over the lobby, the same kind Laura likes to use. Zach dashes back into the bathroom, skittering on his skates and skate guards. 

Even with all the people here for the exhibition, the bathroom’s empty as Zach flees to a stall and vomits. He wipes his mouth with some of the thin toilet paper and leans against the stall wall, closing his eyes. As long as he doesn’t leave his body, he’ll be okay. He takes a few deep breaths, trying to orient himself. To imagine launching his body into the air, feeling the wind whistle by and then the ice reaching up to catch him, cold and solid beneath his skates. But the world is coming through all muffled as though everything is being suffocated. He’s trembling, terrified that if he opens his eyes he’ll have that feeling again. He sometimes has it when he thinks of her. That feeling of not knowing who he is. He could see himself in the mirror and it’s like staring at a complete stranger. Who is that? He wonders. Even his body becomes this foreign thing, some kind of distant extension he sees from far away. 

And here is the first page of the most recent draft:

She has to ruin everything. 

That scent feels like it’s stabbing me in the gut and nausea races up my throat. Running to the bathroom, I leap into a stall, not caring if anyone is there and gets my dinner spewed all over them. When that’s all vomited up, I dry heave. Every time I think it’s over I remember the smell of that girl’s perfume — the same kind Laura wore — and I start gagging again. 

I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to be on the ice, where everything is ok. Instead I’m choking on air and stupid memories. 

When it finally stops, I lean against the stall wall, closing my eyes. The metal is cool and comforting against my forehead. 

Someone else has come in and starts jabbering away on his phone, but he sounds muffled and far away. No. No no no fucking no. This isn’t supposed to happen here. I can’t be doing my “magic tricks” during the Freemont Open, before it’s even officially started. I came here to win, not to be fucked up in the bathroom before the Exhibition.

As you can see, the second version is a much stronger piece of writing. I had to revise it because the first page was rather dull and not doing enough heavy lifting to establish the conflicts of the novel right away. The earlier draft was also written before I realized the book was young adult. So, I needed to do some major rewriting to better address my audience. One choice I made was to shift the narrative from third person to first person. And there are things you can do in third person that are perfectly fine for that point of view. However, they simply don’t work in first person. Which simply means … more rewriting! 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed these excerpts and the glimpse into my writing process. I’ll keep swinging by for WIP Wednesday in the future.

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