In this post, you get the 0Draft and 1.0 Draft openings side by side and a break down of my writing process!
When I first draft something I tell myself the story as it unfolds in my head, sometimes plotted and sometimes organically, so I don’t worry about any writing advice or craft in the 0draft form. I don’t write in order, either: I write the scenes that interest me and the scenes that will develop the characters most or just scenes that make me laugh.
Later, I restructure everything and that’s when I start thinking about “how does this work as a story” rather than “what is the story”.
Carrie stared at the remains of her life, spread out on the spare bed in her work colleague’s renovation project. Assorted underwear and three changes of clothes, a sponge bag of toiletries and tampons, her phone and charger, and an envelope of important papers, including her passport.
Apart from that, and the pendant necklace she was wearing – her divorced parents’ joint graduation present to her – that was all she’d managed to grab from the flat before Phil came back.
Raven Beaubois, a statuesque corporate goth whose pronouns were they/she and introduced themself as ‘Chelsea’s answer to Morticia Addams’ during icebreakers, was the only person who really believed her about Phil. Raven had started work at the PR department of Carrie’s insurance firm about six months ago, and found Carrie crying in the toilets once.
Carrie’s best friends told her that she was overreacting, and Phil was a lovely man, and she was paranoid and clingy. It turned out he’d been fucking them for nearly the entire relationship, despite being so possessive and jealous over Carrie that he’d kicked a hole in the bathroom door when she had the audacity to dye her hair. Raven told her to move the fuck out of there and into her Victorian townhouse that Carrie could never dream of affording by herself.
Not that Carrie, who had grown up on a council estate in Croydon, was complaining. Without Raven, she’d be stuck in the flat waiting for Phil to come home, the evidence of his infidelity staring at her from behind the sofa.
Okay, so in these few paragraphs I can picture the room, but it’s nebulous. I don’t have a clear vision of it in my head so I’m not interested in situating it there. I don’t know who Raven is yet – I’m telling myself the key features, the things I want to put in, and then work out later if that is correct for that character and if that stays. I’m working out how much of Carrie’s backstory I’m keeping from the original novel THE CROWS (this is the alternative universe [AU] version of that story with all the supernatural stuff taken out).
I can picture the characters but I’m not interested in how to introduce them to the reader yet. I want to introduce them to myself. I’m describing to myself what backstory I want, and then deciding how much of that to keep or not.
This section was written in one go with no edits, as a stream of consciousness. I edit the first drafts, and then when that draft is complete, and we get to next round revisions and rewrites, that is what I class as “2.0 Draft” and that’s what betas get to see. They might then advise me to restructure some things, that bits and pieces don’t work, and so on. That’s also the sensitivity stage if required. The next phase is the one before, or the one parallel to, a professional editor. I then work on all the comments (beta and pro) and the final draft is the one that is published.
I’m not precious about changes, because by 2.0 Draft my priority is not my vision for the story (with the exception of the characters developing the way that I want them to develop, as long as that’s realistic/logical for their established psychology) but the polishing of the book as a product. I want to get that as good as I can before it goes out.
So here’s the opening of 0Draft vs 1.0 Draft.
You can read the full 0Draft with my annotations and highlights on Ko-Fi – the full first chapter is here, and not what I’d call readable as a book chapter, but that’s not the point of it as a post.
1.0 Draft Opening
Carrie stared at the remains of her life, spread out on the spare bed in her work colleague’s renovation project. Everything she had to show for herself was on the creamy cotton sheets: assorted underwear and three changes of clothes, a sponge bag of toiletries and tampons, her laptop, phone and respective chargers, and an envelope of important papers, including her passport.
Apart from that, and her emotional support box set of Hammer Horror films she’d had hidden in the wardrobe that Phil had always hated, that was all she’d managed to grab from the flat before Phil came back. It was a sad, pathetic testament to the last four years, and even more so for all she’d managed to amass by the age of twenty-six.
By the end of the month, she wouldn’t even have a job anymore.
“Hey,” Raven said, knocking on the door. “How are you doing?”
Carrie didn’t know what to say. She offered a shrug open to Raven’s interpretation.
Raven gave her a knowing look and arched her eyebrow. “Oh. Like that.”
“I did it, though,” Carrie said. She had no idea how she felt, or if there were supposed to be fireworks in her chest rather than this icy, numbing calm. “I did it at the worst possible time.”
So I decided to keep the action to this bedroom, and to maintain the mirror of the THE CROWS’ opening chapter, but to work out what info to give and what to hold off saying yet. I’ve developed the sense of the room (not the dimensions yet), and a bit more of a picture of Carrie (descriptions will weave through the chapter), and introduced Raven in an active way not a passive way so you get an idea of the dynamic between the two of them.
I also added in a better sense of Carrie’s interior world, a sense of her emotional state, her age, and things she’s considered ‘essential’. They aren’t the best things, but it gives you a sense of who she is and what she values. It also gives a better indication of the relationship between Carrie and Phil.
This is also a set up for Carrie and Ricky’s dynamic because they share a taste in films and that’s the start of their bonding experience.
Some of this written style doesn’t work and the sentences are clunky, so that will be reworked in 2.0 Draft.
I think there’s also a better way to open this: Carrie actively unpacking and showing you what she’s got is better than the passive beginning, perhaps, and that’s something I will revisit in 1.1 Draft.
(When I think about my work, to me, the difference between 1.0 and 1.1 / 1.2 / 1.3 Drafts and 2.0 Draft is that the STRUCTURE remains the same and there are no whole chapter rewrites only paragraph rewrites and some section rewrites. 2.0 Draft is the overhauled one, with more significant changes.)
My playlist for the AU is below, courtesy of Spotify! Each section on Ko-Fi has a song from this playlist embedded.