Books: princess academy
  A peek at rewriting

My first draft of princess academy started with an entirely different scene than where I ended up. I can’t find any remaining copies of that first draft, but I’m quite confident that it was lousy. Here I trace later versions of the first paragraph of the book. They all start in the same place, so the changes are to diction and pacing, not to story. There’s no way I could achieve the kind of language I want in a first draft. It takes me many passes to find the right words, the right feeling.

Draft 3
Miri was up at dawn. Her father stirred on the pallet beside her, and Miri wanted to have breakfast made before he woke. She rose slowly and tried to tiptoe past where her sister Marda slept, only to trip on a raised floorstone, hop on one foot, and step directly on Marda’s head. Or at least, where it would’ve been if Marda was still asleep. Miri heard her sister laugh quietly behind her.

Draft 5
Miri awoke before dawn to the sleepy bleating of a goat. Her father stirred on the pallet beside her, and Miri wanted to have breakfast made before he woke. She rose slowly and tried to tiptoe past where her sister Marda slept, only to trip on a raised floorstone, hop on one foot, and step directly on Marda’s blanket. It was empty. Miri heard her sister laugh quietly behind her.

Final draft (perhaps draft 15)
Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat. The world was as dark as eyes closed, but perhaps the goats could smell dawn seeping through the cracks in the house’s stone walls. Though still half-asleep, she was aware of the late autumn chill hovering just outside her blanket, and she wanted to curl up tighter and sleep like a bear through frost and night and day.

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