January 23rd, 2012


SHADOW: How Chapter One Changed from First Draft to Publication

Maggie Stiefvater asked some of her fellow authors to give readers a glimpse of our writing processes by analyzing the evolving first chapter of one of our books. I am up for it! The first draft of SHADOW was a skeleton draft. I had the plot in my head (which I ended up changing) and had Shadow’s voice, and wanted to get it all down on “paper” before I forgot it. So I wrote a quick draft, shutting off my internal editor and just writing. I ended up with about 16000 words in two weeks, which didn’t shine with awesomeness, but at least the words were out of my forgetful brain and on the page.

This was the first stab at a manuscript I called THE QUEEN’S SHADOW, written in August 2004.

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My kids (then 13 & 15yo) read the manuscript and gave me some feedback. A couple of weeks later, I started the revision. Below are two more unsuccessful attempts at the first paragraph:

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At this point in the writing process, I set aside the manuscript and worked on other projects, particularly WINNIE’S WAR. In June 2005, I reread THE QUEEN’S SHADOW and revised, but the manuscript was still very spare, growing only from 16000 words to 21000:

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I continued to revise and expand the manuscript, dropping it occasionally to work on WINNIE’S WAR. I was jumping back and forth between the two stories, which were very different – 1918 historical fiction & a medieval-type fantasy – but I enjoyed diving into the two worlds, playing in one and then the other.

Eventually, I wrote a full manuscript of TQS and signed with an agent in August 2006. She sold TQS to Scholastic in January 2007. A year later, we began the editorial process. Below is how the first paragraph looked after the first editorial revision:

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And then very slightly changed with the second editorial revision:

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Below is the first chapter from the published copy. The final word count was about 70,000 words.

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(1) My editor asked for a word change because "reddened" takes reader out of Shadow's POV.
(2) From the beginning, reveals what Shadow most wants
(3) Shows reader how isolated Shadow is
(4) Adds characterization of the queen
(5) Better explanation of what Shadow was to the queen, what role she played
(6) Introduces Sir Kenway (the love interest) earlier than in original draft
(7-8) Shows relationship between Sir Kenway, Shadow, and the queen, and provides more characterization of Sir Kenway: Much of this interaction added during the editorial process
(9) More characterization of Shadow, a little revealing of her feelings
(10) Heightens the attraction between Shadow and Sir Kenway
(11) This delta time increased to twenty days because my editor asked me to add more scenes, develop stronger relationships, before queen's birthday.


I wish I had time to analyze more deeply. My notes are packed away deep in storage, so this was done from memory. It was a fun exercise, though.

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