Today's Tune: How Far We've Come
Just for funsies, I thought I'd post a little show of my writing over time. I will forewarn you, this stuff is going to be pretty crap, so, y'know, be nice. I am aware it's crap, and I don't still write this way, I swear :P
These are excerpts from a novel I've tried to write for several years that's never taken off. You'll probably be able to see why.
First attempt, around age 19:
“Danika! Dani, are you stargazing again?”
Danika Tadivanda snapped back from her wandering thoughts as her grandmother’s words cut through the night. Sighing, she answered, “Yes, Mali.”
“Do come in, child. It’s nearly November! You’re sure to catch your death if you stay out in the cold like you do,” called the ancient woman.
“I have my coat, Mali! You’ve been telling me that for as long as I can remember, and I’ve yet to ever catch cold!” The girl turned her eyes longingly back to the sky. “Please, Mali, just a few more minutes!”
She could hear her grandmother sigh from the yard. “Very well. But only a few more minutes.”
Dani could not help but smile. Her grandmother was a kindly old woman that loved her more than anything. She knew very little about her grandmother’s past, as she seldom spoke of it. She only knew that the woman had come to their small northern California town from Ireland, and that much was obvious from her thick accent. Dani also knew that her grandmother had become her legal guardian when her parents died. It always pained Dani to think of her parents, for although they died before she was old enough to remember them, she still felt connected to them somehow. However, as much as it hurt her to think of her parents, she knew that it hurt her grandmother even more.
From what little her grandmother had told her of her mother, Dani knew that she had inherited her love of the stars from her. Dani felt that she could gaze at the stars and find the answers to all life’s little problems. She felt completely at peace when there was nothing but the open sky for miles and miles.
She smiled now as she saw Virgo and Gemini moving across the heavens. When she had been old enough to understand astronomy, her grandmother had told her that these were her signs. Dani knew that the position of the constellations that night meant that in slightly less than eight hours she would be sixteen years old.
Oh ACK. Info dumps. Info dumps EVERYWHERE. So much telling instead of showing. And over-description. And packing in backstory. Plus, boring. Sigh. This is also when I was WAY overthinking the names of my characters, as you can plainly see.
Here's attempt #2, around age 22. I scrapped the original setting and tried a different approach. I also changed Dani's name to Danny for some silly reason. Probably an attempt to be edgy.
A shaft of sunlight had pierced Danny’s sleep. Groaning, she turned her bleary eyes to the window to see that Eyrie, her cat, was sitting on the sill and had pulled the curtain just a little way open, causing a line of morning sun to fall across her face. She had no idea where he’d learned that this trick caused humans to wake, but now that he knew it worked, he implemented it often.
“No, Eyrie!” she whined, her voice thick with sleep. “It’s my birthday! Let me sleep. Have Mahli feed you.”
The cat blinked his large gold-green eyes and flicked a tufted ear, giving her a look that plainly said "no deal." She debated throwing her pillow at him, and opted to pull it over her own head instead. At this, Eyrie merely changed tactics. He leaped onto the bed and began kneading her back. After two minutes of this, she knew he wasn’t giving up. Stubborn beastie.
“Fine, all right, fine,” she said, sitting up on her elbows and blowing away the brown curl that fell in her eyes. “I’m up. Now go away and let me get ready.” Purring, Eyrie obliged, holding his tail erect as he left the room. Danny thought he was gloating. She flopped back on her pillow for a minute, but realized it was futile. Her hope of sleeping in on the last day before classes began was abandoned, and she swung her feet to the floor. Yawning widely, she shuffled to her vanity for her hairbrush and headed toward the bathroom.
A little better. More action, less blah blah blah. Still, my sentences are convoluted and I try to explain too much. Some of my word choices are... special... and the whole thing needs a lot of tightening up. I had a habit of writing in long paragraphs, which I'm still trying to break myself of.
Here's my last attempt. It's from about a year and a half ago, before I decided to shelve this poor thing. Danny's name is back to Dani.
Dani squinted into the sliver of light that fell directly across her face. After a moment, she was able to make out the silhouette of a sandy cat with tufted ears nudging aside the bedroom curtain just enough to let the beam in.
“Oh Eyrie, no,” she groaned, cursing the day her mischievous cat had made the connection between her waking and his feeding. She attempted to bury her face beneath her pillow, but Eyrie merely abandoned his post at the window, hopped onto the bed, and began kneading her back in earnest. “All right, all right, you jerk. I’m up.”
The large tomcat purred and bounded out the door, tail erect, satisfied that she was awake. Dani briefly considered trying to go back to sleep, but knew it was pointless. Sighing, she swung her feet over the side of the bed, yawning widely and stretching head to toe. Purple-painted toenails stood out against the pale carpet as she stood and walked to her vanity. Navy blue eyes stared back at her from underneath a tangle of coffee-before-cream curls, and a freckled nose wrinkled in mild distaste. Snatching up a clip, she wrestled her hair into a messy bun and shuffled to the doorway.
Better. Less awkward, though there are still a number of phrases that just don't sound quite right. The adverbs need to go. I also did the cliché "describe your character using a mirror" thing, ugh. Paragraphs are still a little long, but I like the flow of this excerpt much better than the other two.
My writing has continued to improve, but I still have a long road ahead of me. It's interesting to see how I've developed in only a few years' time. Makes me wonder how I'll be doing two or three years from now :)
Ah, the joy of writing... always a learning experience. You never know it all.