Sometimes when I'm hot on a project, I'll get time to write without having access to a computer. When that happens I'll write it out longhand, but then of course I'll need to transcribe it. And when that happens, there's a certain amount of editing that occurs (normally I try not to go back and edit too much, because that way lies never-moving-forward). I transcribed the very start of Chapter 2 tonight ("From the Flames"), and I actually did a huge amount of re-writing. It went from 196 words to 551 words, and in my opinion it's a lot stronger (although I'd still place it firmly in "rough draft" status). Here are the two versions for comparision, if you're curious about that sort of process-y-thing:
All of Winterhaven was in mourning.
It had been four days since the giant earth-shaking that killed three of the four pfeni. Avalyn, the sole survivor of the pfenix house’s destruction, lay in bed, too weak and traumatized to move. She knew that she was now the spiritual leader of the Haveners, that she must say or do something, anything, to comfort her people, but she did not know what to say, or what to do. She was only eleven years old. She was nowhere near to completing her training. And now there was no one left to train her, just as the world itself was turning against her people.
A tear made its way down her cheek, and she didn’t bother to wipe it away. Why did Hukka have to go back in after rescuing her? Now she had no one.
As if sensing her thoughts, Violet let out a wheedling whine and nudged her soft, blue-white head under Avalyn’s arm.
“You don’t know anything about leading, either,” Avalyn said softly, and stroked the fox’s fluffy back. “But at least you won’t leave me.” Violet snrked an affirmatibe, then turned to burrow beneath the covers.
Avalyn woke to the sound of muffled voices, and a weight on her chest.
For a moment she panicked, thinking she was still in the burning building, and tried to leap to her feet- but a wave of nausea stopped her before she was even halfway up, and she realized that she was laying in her own bed, safe in her own room. The weight was Violet, who let out an indignant squeal at the sudden shift in her nest, but quickly resettled when it became apparent that there would be no further movement. Avalyn squeezed her eyes against the light coming in through her window, and tried to slow her racing heart.
One of the voices grew loud enough to make out words. It sounded like... her mother yelling at someone?
“...only eleven years old, and she’s my daughter! It can wait!”
Another voice, which sounded masculine, wasn’t loud enough for Avalyn to understand everything, but a few phrases made it through.
“...two days, Elota… only surviving pfenix… people need…”
“Damn her past lives!” Elota’s voice, if anything, was now louder. “I’m worried about this one-”
A third voice interjected sharply- Avalyn suspected her father- and then the voices retreated. Avalyn felt numb.
Two days. She’d been asleep two days. And all of the others had died? Avalyn probed her fragmented memories- the body broken beneath the beam, she realized now it had been Argen. The weight of the wood must have killed him immediately, and would have killed Avalyn if she hadn’t been thrown clear of the table by the first large tremor. The long braid soaking in tea- that was Karsivahl. She had been next to Argen- close enough to be pinned by the beam, without immediate death. She had been the one yelling for someone- for Hukka, Avalyn now realized- to “protect her”. “Her,” being Avalyn.
But Hukka had left her- he must have gone back, tried to rescue Karsivahl, too. And instead they both died.
The knowledge suddenly blossomed in Avalyn’s mind that she was now the spiritual leader of the Haveners. It was up to her to say or do something- anything- to comfort her people during this terrible time- that must be what the other voice was demanding, for her to fulfill her role as the pfenix of Winterhaven. But Avalyn did not know what to say, or what to do. Her mother was right: she was only eleven years old. And with three other living pfeni, no one had ever seriously considered that she might one day have to lead alone- and even if she had, she was nowhere near to completing her training. And now… now there was no one left to train her, The world itself was turning against her people, and all they had for guidance was an untrained little girl.
A tear made its way down her cheek, and she didn’t bother to wipe it away. Why had Hukka abandoned her? Now she had no one.
As if sensing her thoughts, Violet let out a wheedling whine and nudged her pointed nose beneath Avalyn’s arm.
“You don’t know anything about leading, either,” Avalyn said softly, and stroked the fox’s fluffy back. “But at least you won’t leave me.” Violet snrked an affirmative, then turned to burrow beneath the covers.