C.J. began writing her novel when she was 15. Almost that many years later, she saw Thicker than Blood in print.
And its evolution? The first line alone went through seven revisions. She generously gave permission to share the rewrites and to also share her take on each one.
From the story written at age 15:
Christy Thomas worked at Robert Kuller Real Estate in Billings, Montana.
Um, can we say boring?
1st draft at age 19:
Christy Thomas didn’t see the red lights until they were directly behind her, flashing madly.
I think the lights were rabid.
She pulled off the highway, her arms and fingers tense with fear.
This was my melodramatic phase.
Christy didn’t see the cop until he was tailing her.
I was on the right track with this one, I think.
Manuscript submitted to Operation First Novel contest in 2004:
Christy wished the cop would just shoot her.
Apparently I took too seriously the advice to begin with a bang.
Manuscript submitted to Operation First Novel contest in 2008:
Christy didn’t see the cop until his red lights spun in her rearview mirror.
Eventually I saw the error of my ways and went back to this.
Published first line:
Christy Williams didn’t see the cop until his red lights flashed in her rearview mirror.
When I awoke the morning after reading C.J.’s first lines, I imagined her reading from my stories. I heard editor Lyn Riddle, who I wrote for at a regional paper, editing each line.
“I soaked up the beauty of the forest,” read C.J.
“Soaking is what you do in a tub, not the forest,” said Lyn. “You walk through the forest and notice rough bark on trees.”
I edited out fluff and flowery words and put in their places straightforward passages.
“Please, just tell the story,” said Lyn. It was another of her suggestions to improve articles.
Remembering it encouraged me to cut 42 words from “Off Topic Again” because I was off topic.
“Writing is rewriting.”
I spent the afternoon doing just that, following Lyn’s advice that writing is all about the revision.
Obviously, C.J. and Tyndale House Publishers agree.
How many times are you willing to rewrite a post, an article, a chapter? Does rewriting bug you or do you appreciate refining your work?
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’m willing to revise and be revised.
On the side: More to come from C.J. Darlington in an upcoming interview that will appear “write” here on Well-Written Days. I hope you’ll join us.
Photo credit: Cindi Koceich of Selah Photography Studios