Monday, November 28, 2011

GUEST POST: NIGHTSPELL BEGINNINGS by Leah Cypess


I'm so pleased to have this opportunity to kick off Leah's NIGHTSPELL Blog Tour. If you haven't read these two fine books I highly suggest them:








Now Here is Leah with some words on writing Nightspell:





Beginnings are hard” – so I hear – but when it comes to writing books, I find beginnings fun and exciting. In fact, I come up with beginnings – first lines, ideas, characters – all the time. The challenge, for me, is coming up with the middles and endings.


So to start off the Nightspell Blog  TOUR I thought I’d show you the original beginning of Nightspell. This was what the beginning looked like for most of the book’s creation. But when I sent my final draft around to critique partners, one of them mentioned that it was a bit passive. Sometimes, a comment just hits you right; by the time I had finished reading that critiquer’s email, I had thought of a new way to start the book and written it down.



          Curious about the beginning that hit the dust? Here it is:



                                                                                  #

The ghost was watching them from behind a tree.

Darri started to tighten the reins, then thought better of it and forced her hands to relax. Her horse, not fooled, snorted nervously and tossed its head. Darri stared straight ahead and thought, as hard as she could, of sunlight and blue sky and empty plains. The mental image had worked until now, keeping her just at the edge of panic. But the farther they rode into the tangled trees that towered over them in the darkness, the more difficult it was to pretend she was riding through her father’s lands, where the dead were safely hidden beneath the earth and you could see an enemy coming for miles.

No one else had noticed the ghost. Even Varis had passed it right by, wearing his habitual focused expression and scanning the ground and the trees. True, none of them was used to riding at night or among trees, and the torches cast flickering shadows that made it difficult to see anything. Still, their lack of attention was testimony to the general quality of the men who had been willing to ride with them into Ghostland.

Despite herself, Darri looked back. Beyond the pale glow of the last torch, the forest was so dark there could have been a thousand ghosts there – or none at all. Or just the one she had seen, the tall girl in a tattered gown, with her long hair twisting around her shoulders and a tree branch clearly visible through her translucent torso.

Here be ghosts the maps said, and that was all they had to say about the kingdom known as Ghostland. There would be more than a thousand ghosts where she was going. There would, the legends whispered, be as many ghosts as there were people. Each ghost looking for vengeance, and each unkillable. You couldn’t kill the dead, but they could kill you.

Varis glanced over at her swiftly, frowned – at what, she couldn’t imagine – and went back to scanning the shadows between the thick tree trunks, as if expecting a ghost to leap out from between them.

She tried to feel scornful, but in truth she was no better. She had reached for her dagger a dozen times since they crossed the border. In her case, though, her tension was only partly because of where they were. It was mostly because of where they were going, and who she was going to see there.

“Don’t be nervous,” Varis said, making her almost jump out of her saddle. She turned and glared at him. “We’re almost there.”

                                                                                     #

(If you want to compare it to the original beginning, it’s available for free at HARPER TEEN)


What do you think? Which of the two beginnings do you like better? Are beginnings easy or hard for you? Let us know in the comments, and be entered to win a one-of-a-kind annotated copy of Mistwood!



Thanks so much Leah!


224 comments:

1 – 200 of 224   Newer›   Newest»
Kaye M. said...

Personally, I like the beginning that ended up in the book (I read the sample, but haven't been able to get my hands on a complete copy yet).

I think it's interesting that you find beginnings so easy, Leah. Maybe it's just my issues with writer insecurities/thinking that I have to prove how good of a writer I am from the first sentence, but I have troubles with the beginning.

It always doesn't sound right, or I feel as though I could have made a better "hook". Obviously I should stop reading so many how-to-write books. :s

wordslikesilver said...

I know this may sound like a suck-up answer, but I loved both. I'm obsessed. But I haven't been able to read Mistwood yet so I'd love to win a copy! :) Thank you!
Grace

wordslikesilver said...

I know this may sound like a suck-up answer, but I loved both. I'm obsessed. But I haven't been able to read Mistwood yet so I'd love to win a copy! :) Thank you!
Grace

Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info said...

I liked both of them, but I would have to say that the one that actually ended up in the book is better. I love it when a novel hooks you with the action right at the beginning. The passive ghost wasn't as frightening as a ghost who knocks you off your horse and laughs when you plunge a dagger in his chest. Thank you for sharing the original with us--it is nice to see how a book can change with revisions!

Jordan Finch said...

I prefer the one that ended up in the book- start me off with some action, and I'm totally hooked. My luck with beginnings vary. Sometimes they flow right onto the page without a problem, while other times I can almost finish the entire story before I think of a good beginning.
Thanks for the giveaway!

Vivien said...

I definitely prefer the finished version. I need a book to start with a bang and rope me into the story. If that happens, I can outlast just about anything. If it's too slow in the beginning, my mind set is just screwed.

Thanks!

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Pao Martinez Parente said...

I think both versions can be unique and very different. Thank you for the giveaway!
guguberis@hotmail.com

A Backwards Story said...

I love seeing the original beginning and how far the book came. I agree that the new beginning is much less passive. You're thrown right into the action and then start piecing components together rather than being told everything. It also seems like Darri and Varis initially had a different relationship with one another initially, and their relationship is biting from the beginning in the final writing.

This was interesting to see. Thank you for sharing! <3

Charlotte said...

I can come up with beginnings as easily as breathing....it's the next bits that are tricky!

I loved Mistwood from its first pages!

Alison Can Read said...

I like both versions - but maybe it's because I love Leah's writing so much. Beginnings definitely are hard. It's hard for me to get it right as a writer. I have to remember that I can come back and change things later if it's not right at first.

Malvina Beatrice said...

I haven't got the chance to read this book yet which why I hope to win it.Please count me in. Thanks

darkenf(at)rocketmail(dot)com

Kristi said...

This is a great peek at some text that didn't end up in the published version. I definitely like both beginnings so I'll have to think about this for a little while...

Anyway, as both a reader and aspiring reader, I think most beginnings are hard. In other words, writing them has been difficult for me (so far) because I only write as a hobby and haven't picked up that skill on figuring out a good place to begin a story. As a reader, I feel like there's a lot of pressure on a book to capture my attention, otherwise I might toss it aside and never finish.

I would say my favorite beginnings are ones that immediately draw me into a world and take me on this crazy ride from there.

:)

Kristi S.
quailsrock23(at)yahoo(dot)com

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