Wild Child: Before and After

 

WILD CHILD is one of those books that took me a few years to fully realize. 


By a few years, I mean twelve. 


I started writing WILD CHILD before I’d accepted that I was an author. It was one of those wild, spontaneous, awesome adventures I plunged into wholeheartedly because it was the sort of romance I wanted at the time. 


Then I re-engaged with the book after over a decade, and I remembered just how much heart it had. 


But it’s not as simple as cleaning that manuscript up and slapping it in an ebook. 


WILD CHILD, formerly titled FINDING ELLIE, was a hot disaster. A bless-your-heart-you-sweet-little-thing monster. 


I thought it might be fun for you to see a Before and After of what books like this go through in the editing process. Below, I’ve included an unedited clip from the beginning of the book, and then what it turned into later. 


There are lots of other passages that had a bunch of changes. Because I didn’t have a lot of intentional skill at writing at that time, I mostly “info dumped” (or told you too much all at once). Much of the writing of the story wasn’t salvageable, and you’ll see why below. But much of the storyline was, and that’s where the real magic lies. 

 

 

BEFORE 


In this version of my writing, you can see fewer paragraphs, and lot more “telling” instead of “showing” you the story. But maybe you can sense the real connection and power I had to the characters. I genuinely loved them. Shay was a love interest up against Ellie, who hadn’t truly realized her feelings for Devin yet, in early iterations. 


I have even left my en dashes (-) in instead of the em dashes (—) that are correct as a way to stay true to my lack of knowledge and my younger narrative style then.


Shay’s ceaseless chatter didn’t begin to die down until we got a couple miles from our campsite at three or four in the afternoon. I could tell by that sign alone that she was getting tired. Kendra had loaned her her small pack and the two of them had spent a couple hours last night planning the outfits she was going to wear while Dev, Mac, Trevor and I watched an old John Wayne movie. She had reminded us often of how much she works out-especially the stair stepper-so this hike shouldn’t be a problem for her. I kept my comments to myself as I watched her at the trailhead, struggling under the weight of Kendra’s pale pink pack. Maybe she’d surprise me. Luckily for her, and probably us, her pack was mostly light despite the number of clothes she had brought. Dev and I both packed right before we left this morning.


I was always in a state of readiness when it came to returning to the mountains.


He had lifted both of our packs before we left the house, surprised to feel them about the same weight. He was carrying some of Shay’s stuff and some other basic camp stuff I hadn’t divvied out to the guys on top of his own.


“You think you can handle it? That’s just about fifty pounds, babe.”


The gleams of challenge in his eye made an arrogant look worthy of him come out of me, and I smiled as I slipped it on.


“You don’t even know what you’re up against anymore, Devy baby. You haven’t played this game with me in awhile, be careful where you move your pawns.”


He had given me that crooked smile in response, and I found myself surprised to feel unnerved by it.


I looked ahead of me, saw the trail start to wind downward on the other side of the mountain we had just climbed and knew we were close. I was a little concerned for John. I could tell it wasn’t so much muscle strain, but the thin air was getting to him, as it usually was. We took it especially easy that last mile, Matt and Jared not seeming to mind the snails pace. John did better that way, and when he wasn’t huffing and puffing so much he started to speak again. I checked back to see how Dev was doing, and he nodded to me, indicating he was ok.

 

 

AFTER


I haven’t included this particular paragraph back in the book, but I did go through and change it the way I would have to rewrite WILD CHILD if I had included it. You’ll see major changes in characters, places, and delivery.  It will give you a better idea of how I actually work when processing these sorts of changes, and how I can take original ideas but go a different direction.


Kimball’s ceaseless chatter didn’t die down until a couple miles away from the campsite. By then, hours had passed. A hot sun beat down, indicating three or four in the afternoon. His lack of speaking made his fatigue evident. 


I kept my comments to myself as I watched Steve struggle with his foot placement as we dropped into a gully. The pack wasn’t too heavy for him—he had shoulders like an ox—but the required tenacity seemed to wear him down. 


Then again, maybe he’d surprise me. 


Dev glanced over to me, then motioned to my pack with a jerk of his head. “What have you got?” A gleam of challenge appeared in his eyes. “Twenty? Thirty?”


Like we shared a brain, I knew exactly what he meant. I smirked with all the arrogance I expected in his reply. He always bragged about the weight of his pack.


“Hardly. Try fifty-five.”


He shook his head and whistled with a real admiration. It sent a frisson of heat through me. 


“Tough girl, Ellie,” he said with a little cluck in his voice. “You’ve always been a tough girl.”


He scampered up a particularly steep section of the trail, just to show off, and I found myself smiling in his wake.

 

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