Monday, July 27, 2009

The Evolution of a First Line

I've just updated my website to tell the story behind the story of my first novel Thicker than Blood. From inception to acceptance, here's the whole shibang in all it's details.

Part of what I share is the evolution of the first line of the novel. Here it is:

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.

2nd draft:
She pulled off the highway, her arms and fingers tense with fear.
This was my melodramatic phase.

3rd draft:
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.


Read the full "Story Behind the Story" here.

8 comments:

Kathryn said...

Wow that is a lot of rough drafts! I liked seeing what you came up with, thanks for posting!

Karen said...

I loved this post. I enjoyed following your growth -- just in the first line. One thing that jumped out at me was that Christy's last name changed entirely in the published edition. Did the publisher recommend that or did you actually change it somewhere along the way?

C.J. Darlington said...

Karen---good eye! I should've mentioned that.

I'm the one who changed it. For some reason I had her name originally be Thomas, and her sister was named May Williams. I realized I either had to come up with a reason why their names were different (i.e. marriage, divorce but keeping the last name, etc.) or they needed to match. So Christy's got changed. :)

Rachel said...

What a fun, fun, fun post!!

Koala Bear Writer said...

Very interesting to see the progression! Especially when first lines are so important.

candy said...
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candy said...
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macromab said...

Love seeing the progression!