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Revising the Beginning

What happened last night?  Editing happened, okay?  No, seriously, a lot of editing happened.

I finally went back to the well and brought up A For Advanced and decided that, yeah, now’s the time to start getting this ready.  There’s a lot to edit and revise, and at the start it looks like a daunting task.

But, as with everything else, you start at the beginning.

But, as with everything else, you start at the beginning.

This time I went and reread everything, taking my time through the scene.  I had to edit out bad spelling and punctuation, but at the same time I wanted to fix the scene, make it flow better.  I’ve learned a few things in two and a half years since starting this novel, and I know it wasn’t sterling when it went down on paper, or what passes for that today.

Now, for what comes next I employed Scrivener’s Snapshot function, which is just what you think it is:  you capture an image of a section of your story and the program hold that in the instance you want to go back to it for some reason.  You can then cut and paste out parts if you get a little delete happy, or just roll back all the words and start over again.  This is one of the reasons I cut my novel into scenes:  that allows me to capture small chunks of the story, rather than a huge hunk at one time.

What I’m presenting today is the very beginning of the story, which is where you always go when you’re doing an edit–at least it’s that way for me.  First I’ll show you the story as it’s sat, more or less, since the start of NaNoWriMo 2013, which is when this scene was written.  So here we go–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, by Cassidy Frazee)

The mountains were bright under the morning sun, though the light had yet reached many of the surrounding valley floors. Within the hour every valley in and around Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would bathe in sunshine, but for now most were enveloped in quiet shadows.

In one valley lay a small lake, the surface smooth and unmoving, still in possession of a layer of light mist from the prior evening. The eastern shoreline brushed up against the heavily wooded valley side, but everywhere else the lake was surrounded by low, rolling hills marked by a few bare spots of erosion, and meadows covered in short grass. Here no trees had taken root—

Save for one spot opposite the eastern valley walls. A lone tree stood upon a slight bend in the shoreline, making it even more distinctive. It was impossible to tell the tree type: even a close scrutiny didn’t reveal its secrets. It looked out of place—and yet, based upon it’s height and the spread of the branches, it was obvious it had been there for decades.

Stranger was the color of the leaves. They were a bright yellow, as if they were dusted with saffron—an unusual color, for the other trees on the opposite bank were a uniform green with a sprinkle of brown, and nary a spot of yellow anywhere. The coloration wasn’t due to the coming of fall—it was late August and the trees wouldn’t begin changing for another two months. It was possible that the tree itself sprouted yellow leaves, but if one had visited the tree the day before, they may have seen the leaves a bright red—and the day before that a light green.

The leaves changed color, but they didn’t change with the seasons . . .

Beneath the branches a young girl with wavy chestnut hair that rested lightly upon her shoulders stood. She was dressed in a light summer blouse and jeans and sneakers, making her indistinguishable from any other eleven year old girl currently living in and around Pamporovo. She stood facing the lake, her eyes fixed upon a point somewhere across the water, her arms locked across her chest. It seemed as if she were deep in thought, staring off into space so that her mind was free from distractions. She didn’t move, nor give any indication she was aware of her surroundings.

Her expression betrayed her emotions, though. She slowly blinked as she stared across the lake with lips slightly pursed while in the cool morning shadows of her unusual tree. Mist drifted off the lake and over her, making the skin on her arms dimple. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to finally enjoy this almost-perfect morning.

The girl was about to check the time on the small wristwatch she wore when a voice called to her. “Annie!” She turned slowly; she knew the voice, and why they were looking for her—

She spotted the woman standing on the porch of a small house forty meters away. The woman waved her right arm in the air as she called once again. “Annie!”

Awareness dawned upon young girl. “Yes, Mama?”

“It’s almost ten o’clock.” This time she waved for the girl to come to the porch. “It’s getting close to the time to leave.”

Anelie Kirilova—or, as her mother, father, and the rest of her extended family called her, Annie—knew her mother was right. She knew it was nearly time to leave; she’d known this for over an hour. In another twenty, thirty minutes she’d leave this all behind and not see it again until it was all covered with Christmas snow . . .

She brushed a strand of hair from her face as she walked toward the house. “Coming, Mama.”

 

It’s not bad, but it’s not up to my current standards.  I found a few misspelled words–more like using a past tense here and there than anything else–but it doesn’t flow nicely to me.  I mean, I was straight-up writing, and the idea was to get the words out there and move on.  That means when I went through it last night I start rewriting and getting lines so they felt right.

Here’s how it changed:

 

Though many of the surrounding mountains reflected the bright morning sunshine, there were still valleys that remained untouched. Within the hour, however, every valley in and around the resort of Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would lay bathed in light, but for now most remained enveloped within quiet shadows.

In one valley west of town lay a small lake. The surface was smooth and still and remained in possession of a layer of light mist from the prior evening. The eastern shoreline brushed up against the heavily wooded valley side, while elsewhere the lake was surrounded by low, rolling hills marked by a few bare spots of erosion and, to the north, a small meadows covered in short grass. Nowhere in these areas had trees taken root—

Save for one spot along the northwest shore. A lone tree stood upon a slight crook in the shoreline, making the tree even more distinctive. It was impossible to tell the species: not even a close scrutiny revealed secrets. It seemed out of place—and yet, based upon its height and the spread of the branches, it was obvious the tree had been there for decades.

Stranger yet were the color of the leaves. They were a bright yellow, as if were dusted with saffron—an unusual color, for the trees on the opposite bank were a uniform green with a sprinkle of brown, and there was nary a hint of yellow anywhere. The coloration wasn’t due to the coming of fall—it was late August and the trees wouldn’t begin changing for another two months. It was possible that the tree itself sprouted yellow leaves, but if one had visited the tree the day before, they may have seen the leaves a bright red—and the day before that a light green.

For while the leaves changed color they didn’t change with the seasons.

Beneath the branches stood a young girl with wavy chestnut hair that rested lightly upon her shoulders. She wore a light summer blouse and jeans and sneakers, all of which made her no different the other eleven year old girl living in and around Pamporovo. She stood facing the lake, her arms locked across her chest while her eyes lay fixed upon a point somewhere across the water. Her mind was free from distractions while staring off into space: she didn’t move, nor give any indication she was aware of her surroundings.

Her expression appeared to betray her emotions, however, as she slowly blinked while staring across the lake. Her lips slightly pursed for a moment, then a portion of the morning mist drifted up and over the shore, surrounding her for a moment. She closed her eyes as the skin on her arms dimpled, so that she could, for a few moments, finally enjoy this almost-perfect morning.

The girl was about to check the time on the small wristwatch she wore when a distant voice called out. “Annie!” She turned slowly: she knew the voice, and knew why they were here looking for her—

She spotted the woman standing on the porch of a small yet modern-looking house forty meters away. The woman waved her right arm in the air as she called once again. “Annie!”

The young girl finally broke her silence. “Yes, Mama?”

“It’s almost ten.” This time she waved for the girl to come to the porch. “It’s getting close to the time to leave.”

Anelie Kirilova—or, as her mother, father, and the rest of her extended family called her, Annie—knew her mother was right. She knew it was nearly time to leave; she’d known this for over an hour. In another twenty minutes she’d leave her home in the mountains and not see it again until all lay covered by Christmas snow . . .

She brushed a strand of hair from her face as she began walking toward the house. “Coming, Mama.”

 

There you go:  my venture back into editing and revision.  And if you follow my author’s page on Facebook, you’ll see the true dope laid down:  “Began Revising Act One in preparation for publication.”  It’s time, kids:  you need to get out on the stage.

Now you have a pretty good idea how I’m going to spend my summer.

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