“You’ve come a long way, Baby” Blogfest (AKA, a glimpse at a before and after)

The big day is here! That’s right, The Writer’s Hole, “You’ve come a long way, Baby” Blogfest is TODAY!

Hop on over to Christine’s blog to check out the other participants’ entries…should be a lot of fun AND eye-opening to see other writers’ progress over time.

You know, it’s hard to see changes when we track them on a daily basis, but when confronted with the before and after, well, the differences are striking.

Without further ado, here’s my before (opening excerpt from my first novel, an adult urban fantasy):

Peter’s words circled around in her mind with such speed and intensity that it left her confused.

She kept coming back to the same questions. Why is he persisting in this? And why now?

She shook her head. They’d had a perfectly romantic evening—an elegant dinner complete with dancing. And then he’d ruined it by asking her to move in with him.

Shocked by the suddenness of his request, her stomach flopped and her heart raced. Breathless, she’d sputtered a hasty reply—“Doesn’t it seem a little soon? I mean things are going so well the way they are.”

He’d replied, “Yeah, things are going great. Which is why I think it’s time you move in with me, Brienne.”

Her mind still reeled from his deep kiss.

He really wants this.

Looking at her reflection, she peered into her green eyes. How many times am I going to replay the conversation? For crying out loud, just give it a rest already, will you!

She pursed her lips.  Moving in together is just not an option.

Almost ready for work, she grabbed her bag, still trying to reason it out. She loved Peter—at least she thought she did—so, why couldn’t that be enough? She’d tried to tell him that as tactfully as possible, but it felt awkward and she was left unsatisfied.

Well, how the hell do you think he feels? She asked herself.

Fumbling with her ID badge before finally heading out the door, she paused in her rumination and looked at the one by one inch picture. A bright-eyed, idealistic clinician who’d just completed residency smiled back at her. Noticing she’d already aged since that photo was taken five years ago, she turned her attention to her name and the title beneath. Brienne Kirby, MD.

I’ve accomplished so much. So why am I getting stuck on this? Her stomach turned again and she clenched her fists to interrupt the swelling anxiety that threatened to consume her.

Grabbing her keys, she scratched her Persian cat, Milly, under her chin and said, “Bye honey, have a good day.”

The cat jutted out her chin, splaying her whiskers in the process, to more thoroughly enjoy the sensation. Her big blue eyes closed with pleasure and a steady purr made Brienne reluctant to leave.

“Maybe we can talk about Peter when I get home, huh?” She patted the cat’s head.

Milly, disappointed that Brienne had stopped scratching, abruptly turned and walked away, her upright, fluffy white tail bobbing with each step.

“Some help you are.” Brienne frowned. She knew better than to get sympathy from a cat.

Yeah, so, there it is, LOL! Needs some work, eh? Gotta say it’s not as bad as I thought it would be (haven’t seen this one in over 18 months!). If I were to rewrite/revise this tale, though, I’d cut this before you could blink. Heh.

…And here’s my after (opening scene from a middle grade adventure, still a WIP):

The Renaissance Faire wrecks my birthday every year. A month before the actors and merchants arrive to transform the park into a 16th century towne—yes, with an “e”—Mom stops taking her lithium. Within forty-eight hours she’s higher than a prom queen accepting her crown. As the best dress-maker east of the Appalachian Trail, she thinks it’s her duty to stay awake for days, surviving on double espressos and cigarettes, to make the royal court’s costumes. She says mania makes her more productive, but all it does is turn her into a raging beast that puts Sauron, the Basilisk, and the Krakken to shame.

“Why wait until the last minute when you have the whole year?” I hover near the doorway and yell over blaring heavy metal music. Originally the living room, Mom’s studio has the best natural lighting of the whole house. A large bay window, stretching from floor to ceiling, is the envy of every do-it-yourself crafter on the block. I dream about curling up on the seat cushion with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, but Mom doesn’t let anybody in there. No. Matter. What. Mary and I played dress up and paraded in front of the full-length mirrors lining the opposite wall when we were six. Mom spanked us so hard we couldn’t sit for hours. She wasn’t taking lithium then, either.

Well, this piece certainly has more voice. The paragraphs are a bit on the longish side, but this is still a WIP, so it may get edited further. I dig it, though. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel much more connected and invested in the MC in this piece than I did in the “before” example.

So there ya go. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I’m going to enjoy the fact that I’ve come so far in the past 2+ years.

Tell me, friends, what differences have you noticed in your writing over time?

16 comments on ““You’ve come a long way, Baby” Blogfest (AKA, a glimpse at a before and after)

  1. Christine H says:

    Two very good examples, Laura. I do love the voice in the second one, too. And the idea of making Ren Faire clothing. It’s clear how your writing has grown.

    Thank you so much for participating!

  2. I can definitely sense in the second opening your progression in the craft. The voice is strong, the descriptions are rich and introspective, as opposed to, “Looking at her reflection, she peered into her green eyes.” I’ll bet we all have a line about our early character’s green eyes!

    The comparison was a lot of fun to read. Thanks for sharing your work! And best of luck on all your writing projects.

  3. Definite progress! Love the voice in the second piece. What an awesome first line!

    Can’t wait to read your books someday.

  4. Tessa Conte says:

    I liked both, but yes your voice does seem to flow…smoother…somehow in the second piece.


  5. Thanks for your bravery, Laura! You already know I love the voice and the prospects for the MG. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  6. What a great idea for a blog hop! I’ve noticed that my voice has matured. My first novel is written in the pov of a 24 yr old woman who is on the cusp of actually becoming a woman. In book 2 there is a definite shift in her maturity. My novella’s tend to be much more sophisticated than my novels. Don’t ask me why. Crazy. But I’ve learned new words and how to just plain ole write better. Thanks for sharing your work.

  7. Ciara Knight says:

    Oh, yes. A HUGE difference in the last two years. I thank my crit partners for my progress. 🙂

  8. of the two, i cared more about the character in the second one than the first one. you really pulled me in with the first line. great job.

  9. A. Grey says:

    The first excerpt I found myself skimming against my own will! Now, the second? Totally sucked me in! In just a few sentences you really put us right there! I have friends to do Ren Faires and SCA events and within just a line you had me smiling over all the spastic activity that people put into that kind of thing – and those people aren’t actually manic! I was left with all of these visions of a woman with a maniacally brilliant talent reigning over her daughters who are just grasping at normality for the duration of the Faire… until next year when it happens all over again. Great work!

  10. The voice in the second was so engaging. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Dawn Embers says:

    Interesting. What I really noticed is not just the voice but the beginning sounded more like the genre presented in the second piece. The first wasn’t bad but it could be the opening, or a random scene in the middle of a variety of stories. I do like the last sentence of the first one, about the cat. That had a little voice to it. Liked that sentence and the first sentence of the second one the best.

  12. Donna Hole says:

    One of the first things I learned about writing dealt with flashbacks. As with the first excerpt here, a lot of my scenes started as a memory, and worked their way to a present. I think this is because I have an end in mind, and kinda have to write it out that way before I can see it.

    Not that a flashback/memory is always wrong – I still have plenty of those. But for an opening – hmm, not sure it works. I liked the POV in your first excerpt, and how her perspective eventually built her character introduction.

    The second excerpt is much more vivid and immediate with the character intro and the world (cultural) building. There are sympathetic reasons to care about this character, and whatever story of his/her life is to follow.

    A definite improvement.

    Thanks for sharing these.


  13. Elaine says:

    By them time you wrote the second opening you had developed a strong voice, you were confident in how you built the character and the world. I found it interesting to compare the simple things like sentence length.

  14. Simon L. says:

    Definitely the second. There’s a distinct voice in it–something we can connect to. Also, the first sentence (IMO one of the most crucial in the entire MS) is very strong. Nicely done, good lady!

  15. *sigh* I wish I had a cat I could talk to. They are great companions. Love the entry… entries.

  16. Charli Mac says:

    Your voice shines in the second piece. Brilliant. The last line made me pause and want to read the passage again, and I did.

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