Monday, December 13, 2010

Then and Now

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how lean my first drafts are. I had talked about how my whole life seemed cluttered while my manuscripts were very lean. I think Vince made a comment about lean first drafts are when the writer writes a lot of dialogue.
Well as you'll see in my 'Then' version dialogue reigns supreme. I guess that's just how my mind works. Some of the dialogue didn't even make it into the 'Now' portion. But that's okay.
So here's my first draft and revised draft of a very small portion of my current wip.
The characters are Summer (heroine, Sam (her son-he's 4), and Levi (hero).


"You know, I think I'm supposed to be working," I say as we get out of the car. I make sure Sam holds my hand as we start walking.
"Work is overrated," Levi says, his tone light.
"It does pay the bills, though."
"Who's Bill, Mommy?"
Levi and I laugh.
"Nobody honey," I say.
"This way guys," Levi says.
"Are we going to see the waterfall, Mommy?"
"Yes, honey. That's where we are going."
I would have never agreed to go to a waterfall with Levi had Sam not been here. Face it, waterfalls are romantic. But there will be no romance and no kissing while Sam's around. So I had agreed to come.
"I can't believe you've been here almost a year and haven't come to see these falls."
"I was waiting on you," i say, obviously leaving Levi speechless as he has no comback.
"Here we are."
"Oh, they're beautiful."


“You know, I think I’m supposed to be working,” I say, as I Levi opens the car door. “But who wants to be stuck inside working on this beautiful day?”

“Work is overrated.” He offers his hand, which I take, before stepping out of the car. He doesn’t back up so I find myself trapped between him and the car. Trapped here being a good thing. While I’ve become accustomed to his cologne, the scent still turns my senses into a whirlwind. Everything about him crazes up everything in me.

He stays close and holds the door while I remove Sam from his car seat. I’m so aware of Levi standing right behind me. Just the close proximity of him makes my body tingle. I need to focus on something else.


I hold onto him tight as I manage to maneuver around Levi and take a couple of steps back from the car. Brushing a strand of Sam’s hair away from his face I switch my focus to his no-tear shampoo scent. Nothing is more precious than my little boy.

Levi pushes the car door shut. “It’s a perfect day to catch a waterfall. Blue sky, white clouds. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.”

Sam wiggles and I let him slide down until his feet touch the ground. Then look up. Fluffy-looking clouds dot an amazingly clear sky. The air is still, a total contrast to my heart which is racing.

Taking Sam by the hand we start walking. Gravel crunches under our feet, a sure sign I shouldn’t be wearing flip-flops. But I am.

“This way, guys.” Levi gently touches my elbow. I grasp Sam's hand a little tighter trying to subdue Levi’s touch.

I release a little pressure as Sam wiggles his hand. “Are we going to see the waterfall, Mommy?”

“Yes, honey. That’s where we’re going.”

I would have never agreed to come to the waterfall with Levi had Sam not been here. Face it, when you have a guy, a girl and attraction, waterfalls are romantic. Not so much with a child in tow.
I'm hoping.

We leave the parking lot and enter into a wooded area. The gravel is replaced by a soft pine needle path. The air cools. No more sunshine and sky. Brown trunks shoot upward as green leaves canopy us, with only slight rays of sun filtering through.

“I can’t believe you’ve been here almost a year and haven’t come to see these falls.”

“I didn’t really get out much.” I think back to when I first arrived in Lawson’s Ledge. It was a miracle I could get down the stairs from my bedroom to the kitchen on a daily basis.

“You still don’t venture out too often. Sometimes I feel like I’m dragging you places.”

It has nothing to do with places and everything to do with you, Levi. I keep silent as we walk. He doesn’t realize how much being with him is a struggle for me. I struggle to keep my distance. Literal distance and heart distance.

Our silence is comfortable. Sam’s head keeps turning left to right. He seems mesmerized by the sounds and sights of the trail. Levi has set our pace at a level of slow which is perfect for Sam.

And thoughtful of Levi.

I hear the falls before we actually see them. The sound of the rushing water seems distant, yet mighty.

“What’s that noise, Mommy?”

Sam has stopped walking. His fingers grip my hand a little tighter while his expression shows his fear.

I bend down. “It’s okay. What you are hearing is the sound of the water falling. There is nothing to be afraid of.”

He smiles. “Okay, Mommy. I won’t be afraid. Don’t let go of my hand, though. I want you to hold it tight.”

Love washes over me. Leaning toward him I place a kiss on his soft cheek. “Don’t worry, Sam. I’m not ever letting go.”

Levi offers his hand as I stand. He’s smiling, too. Love washes over me again, but it’s a totally different love than what I feel for Sam. The urge to kiss Levi, his lips, not his cheek, is overwhelming. But I don’t. Instead, I quickly force my attention away from him and we keep walking on the trail, toward the falls.

The rushing sound of the water becomes louder the closer we get. Sam’s pace slows even more. His hand feels like it’s super-glued to mine.

We step out of the canopy of the forest into an open area.

Levi stops walking. “Here we are.”

“How beautiful.” A magnificent display of nature is the only description I can think of for the falls. One waterfall rushes downward to another set of falls. Slick looking rocks and lush greenery surround them. White froths cap the stream of water as it rushes downward.

Okay. I know this passage still needs work, but it's so much more flushed out that the 'Then' part. So, this is my writing life. This is how I work. It's what I naturally do. I fought against this but I'm not as productive when I try to work against my own grain.

How many processes, or how long, did it take you to find your groove. Or are you still looking?

Lindi Peterson
Happy Endings Are Just The Beginning


  1. Wow. What a difference! I think the second one is about 5 times as long. :)

    Nice job, Lindi!

  2. It is a big difference!!! I've always wanted to read some of your writing and here it is. Stick with what works, Lindi. You're on to something.

    I'm working on finding what works for me. I do believe I'm a plotter in the beginning. But I think I have to go ahead and write scenes and things I know will be backstory to find where my true beginning is and set the groove for the story.

  3. Missy--up way too late!! And yes, it is way longer. This is how the whole ms is going.
    I'd much rather cut than add.

  4. Christy,
    There's something about getting some of the scenes down on paper, isn't there? A sense of accomplishment, I think. At least that's the way I look at it.
    And then there's always something to work on once you have a scene down.

  5. Enjoyed reading this demonstration of your process, Lindi. It proves how that old advice works, "Just get it down on paper, and then worry about the structure later." Dialogue just seems to flow naturally for some writers, while the "stage directions" and narration can be inserted on second draft. Your blog today illustrates another piece of advice we're always hearing: "Show, don't tell." Thanks to all of you!