I also said that I would eventually go through and post something to show how my writing has developed since I was 12 and first started writing. I finally figured out what to show you! In 2008 I started writing a story I titled Misunderstood. It revolved around 4 very different characters who join together to fight an evil warlock. I used to think that Misunderstood would be my first published novel, but then I looked back at it and realized how terrible it was, so I started to rewrite it. In the process of rewriting, I hit a wall that I couldn't get around. For some reason, the story just wasn't coming to me anymore. I'm still very frustrated that the story wasn't going together like I thought it would. I can only hope that the reason it stopped being so easy was because I was about to start Rose and my other writing would get put on hold. Anyway, I was going to share both versions of the first chapter of Misunderstood on here just to compare my writing from 6 years ago to my writing from this year.
Original Chapter 1
She was watching the streets, not for anything in particular, but to see how much time she had free, by herself. She knew she should be back at the house, especially at this time of night, but she had to get out of that shack and into fresh air. She took a deep breath and looked around again. "Drat!" she muttered. A couple of figures were coming towards her. They stopped a few feet in front of her. She glared at the two women. "Moxanna, we've told you before. Stay away from these houses. Our children have heard stories about you, and when you stand out here just looking around, you frighten them so much. You need to leave." one woman said angrily.
The sorceress clenched her fists and jaw. "I'll say this once more," she managed calmly. "I'm just out to get some fresh air. You try sitting in a dusty, old cellar for two days and see if the crisp night air doesn't sound refreshing. I don't want to hurt anyone. Why do they think I will?"
"Don't play innocent again. We know what happened in the past. Just stay away from here." The other woman replied.
The sorceress's anger flared at their disbelief. The fire in the torches nearby grew bigger and brighter. Quickly she tried to calm herself and gain control over her magic.
The two women moved closer together, frightened that the sorceress would hurt them.
"Moxanna, leave now! You have never been welcome here, and will never be." The first woman shouted.
She took a step closer to them, allowing the fire to grow a bit more. "Boo." her eyes flared as the fire glowed in them.
The two women ran off, terrified for their lives. "And don't call me Moxanna!" she shouted after them. "Calm down Moxi." she said to herself as the torches died down again, darkening her surroundings. She turned and started walking back to her house. She glanced up at the stars and took a deep breath, enjoying her little bit of freedom. After glancing around again, she stealthily pulled her hood off for the first time in the open for a month, releasing her brown hair. It cascaded down to its full length, about halfway down her back, forming its naturally perfect, loose ringlets. She smiled softly as the wind rushed around her and danced through her hair. She stood there for a few more minutes, until lightning cracked in the distance and rain started to lightly fall. She pulled her hood back up to keep her hair safe. The fifteen-year-old wandered through the rain until she reached a small shack. She looked around, then ran around the side and opened a small hatch leading underground. She jumped down into the basement. She shivered and lay down on the straw-stuffed mattress.
While she tried to sleep she thought once more abut her oldest memory. It was less than a year before. She had been wandering in the woods aimlessly, not knowing who she was except her name, or where she was. A farmer's wife had taken her in and fed her. It wasn't long after that she was being housed in this very basement because some people in the village had heard things about her, causing fear to spread through the city, and she could not be seen anymore. Also, back as far as she could remember her magic had always been a little wild. If one of her emotions flared up suddenly, something would happen, whether good or bad, and she knew it was always her fault. The torches that night had been cause by her sudden anger getting out of hand. The other problem was that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't remember anything before the past ten months. Not her parents, siblings, friends, or home. All she knew was that she just wanted to help, but nobody would tell her why they all thought she would do bad. She closed her eyes as sleep overtook her thoughts.
Lightening flashed in the small window. Marissa glanced out and once again was chilled by the familiar sight of a furry creature outside the castle, watching her window. That figure had stood there since she was about three or four years old, she couldn't remember. As lightening flashed again, Marissa slipped out of her hideous pink nightgown and into the dark green pants, shirt, and tied the matching sash around her waist. She pulled her blonde hair into a bun and hid it up in a green bandana, then took another one and tied it loosely around her neck. The last things were the black boots, a green and black bow and arrow holder over her shoulder, and a sword tucked into the sash. Marissa then pulled the bandana up over her nose, instantly transforming from the princess to the masked hero Mari, her biggest secret.
Mari came out every night. At first it was only to practice her archery and swordsmanship, but for the past few years it had more and more frequently been to battle the Black Legion, Lord Drazen's armies. She traveled to the distant farmlands and work areas where they attacked in small numbers. Mari was known as a hero to many because the masked twelve-year old would always slay the most in battle, displaying her skill regardless of her age, and would also always be ready to assist in healing an injury. No one but Marissa knew Mari's identity during the day, and where she always disappeared to. Helping the less fortunate always helped Mari feel less like a princess and more like "the masked hero" as everyone called her.
She opened her window and hung the rope out like every night. She climbed down and searched for the figure in the darkness. He had moved and she could no longer see him. As dangerous as it sounded, she wished to meet him to see the face behind the mystery, and possibly find out why he was there every night. Mari shuddered and headed to the stable to find a horse to ride that night.
"Thank you." He took the bread and ate it as if he hadn't eaten in days. He stopped with a couple bites still left. "Where's my dog?" he asked.
"I need to feed him."
"No need, I already gave him a slice of meat from my dinner. Finish what you have, then drink this." The man handed the boy a small jug of water.
"What's your name?" the boy asked when he was done.
"Leo, well that's what I named myself."
"What did your parents name you?"
"I don't know. I never met my parents."
"Is that why you came here?"
"I've been wandering from town to town my entire life. I have no family, no friends, and no home."
"Do you know where that mark on your hand came from?"
"It's been there as long as I can remember." Leo stood up, revealing a tall, thin body with skin darkened from years in the sun. He had light brown hair that had a slight red tint to it, lightened in the sun over the past years, and it stood up straight and short. His eyes were light blue, and examined every inch of the small room he was in before looking back up at Veran. "Do you know what it means?"
Veran glanced down at Leo's left hand where a ruby colored circle replaced normal skin. "Possibly, but you need to rest right now. Here, have some soup then go back to sleep." He handed Leo a bowl with some broth and chicken in it.
"Veran, you're the first person that has ever let me stay inside for more than a little bit. Am I allowed to live with you?" the boy asked as he settled back in the cot.
"Of course Leo. Now I need to go outside for a little while. Stay here and sleep. I'll show you around when you are healthy again."
The first part of the transformation was always his eyes. The dark green eyes would lighten until they had a slight tinge of yellow. The he would hunch over as the dark fur grew from his pores. The transformation took about thirty seconds to complete. When it was over, his nails had turned to claws, his hair had blended in with the newly grown fur, and his arms and legs were now the legs of a large wolf.
He crawled on all four legs, sniffing to decide where to hunt that night for food. He moved to the edge of the water at the beach, and walked in. The werewolf did this every night before the hunt so his paws were wet and did not give his prey warning with his scent. He jumped out of the salt water and smelled the air again. Suddenly he tensed, as he smelled the familiar scent of his werewolf tribe's leader. The chief, Mander, named to mean "Brave leader", had always been a little hostile toward the different werewolf because of how he was odd, and because no one knew his past except the fifteen-year-old himself. He heard rustling behind him and turned and snarled at Mander who was being followed by other werewolves from the tribe. "Mander, I thought you said you would never bother me when I am out hunting."
"Zan," Mander's eyes narowed as he looked the transformed werewolf up and down. "You do not belong here. Last week when you were hunting you almost lead members of the Black Legion to our village. We knew that the day you came here you were no good, but after that I cannot allow you to endanger my friends and family any longer."
"Mander, I did not lead them here, they found the village and I led them away." Zan stood on his hind legs, making himself slightly taller than Mander.
"They were following you. Besides, your name has cursed us. Zan, the dangerous one."
"That is not my fault!" Zan growled deeply. "Besides, if I leave, where would I go? This is the only place I have ever belonged besides my home, but that village is no more thanks to Lord Drazen. I don't even know where my parents are, my siblings are, or even my twin."
"We don't care where you go. You just need to get away."
Deep in his mind, Zan knew this would happen one day. He was too different from every other werewolf, and his name had always frightened the others. He glared long and hard at Mander. "I'm innocent. I have done nothing to this tribe. I have stayed loyal and helped when asked to."
Mander opened his mouth to speak, but Zan help out a hand to cut him off.
"I haven't done anything to harm this tribe, but if I am no longer welcome here, then I will leave. I'll go hunt down my family, if they are still alive." He dropped back down to all four legs, and growled at all the villagers. He walked past them, and when Mander's back was to him, he jumped onto the tall man's back, claws out and teeth bared. He clawed down his back and bit his shoulder, leaving Mander sprawled on the sand as a bloody mess, and ran off into the nearby woods to hunt for food that night,. Lightning flashed and Zan had to remain under the trees' cover to stay dry before heading off to the castle that cold night.
New Chapter 1
The gentle breeze sent a fierce chill through the night in the Capitol, barely rustling the leaves on the trees, yet the frail young woman still wrapped her cloak tighter around her as if defending her pail skin from the cold. It was a clear night, with the gibbous moon lighting up the empty cobblestone streets. The cloaked figure kept careful watch from her dark blue eyes as she made her way toward the Castle of the Sun, carefully avoiding the light from the torches on each neighborhood street. As always, the hood of her long black cloak was pulled up, casting shadows on her gaunt face.
She was not allowed in town, but a vague sense of curiosity would often pull the sorceress out of the damp basement she called home. The air was so fresh and cool, so full of hope, even for one who had nowhere to go. If only she could discover why everyone was afraid of her and convince them that she was innocent. However, she had no idea if she actually was innocent. Deep in her heart she knew she wasn’t evil, but she had no memories to prove it. She remembered wandering in the woods until she was found by a poor farmer’s wife who helped her because she saw the good inside. Shortly after she was given a place to stay, the rumors came around and she was forced into hiding. At least they hadn’t kicked her out once they heard. The wife still believed in her innocence. She was still being fed as much as they could afford and had a roof to sleep under. Sort of. The castle was so majestic against the blandness of the surrounding buildings and shops. The silvery-blue stone seemed to glow in the dim light. It was much more admirable than the dingy stonewalls in the cellar where she spent most of her time. She admired the Castle a moment longer, breathing in the beauty of the cold night until a flash of movement caught her eye. She cursed under her breath and clenched her fists, digging her sharp nails into her palms as a reminder for self-control.
The two women approached and stared her down disapprovingly, with just a hint of fear. “We’ve told you before, Moxanna, stay away. We know your story. Our children refuse to sleep when they see you standing here. You need to leave.” The taller woman tried to sound brave.
“I’ll say this once more,” the sorceress managed calmly, “I’m just out to get some fresh air. If you spent five minutes in my dusty old cellar, you’d understand why the cool night air is so enticing. I’m not going to hurt anyone.”
“Don’t play innocent. We all know what you are capable of and what you’ve done in the past. Just stay away.” The second, much shorter woman added curtly.
Her anger flared, feeding the fire I the nearby torches, encouraging them to grow bigger and brighter. She quickly calmed herself, nervous that she would lose control again.
The two women huddled closer in fear. The first woman shouted, “Leave now! You have never been welcome here, and never will be!”
The sorceress allowed the fire to grow a bit more, her navy eyes reflecting the orange glow. She lunged toward the women and hissed.
One screamed and they both backed off, turning and running back to their homes, clearly terrified for their lives.
“And don’t call me Moxanna!” She shouted after them. The things she had to do just to get out and breathe. “Calm down, Moxi.” The light from the torches died down with her energy. She sighed, then turned and walked back to the house. After glancing up at the stars, she took a deep breath and pulled her hood off, a cascade of dark hair fell, forming long, loose curls down her back. She took a deep breath and encouraged a light breeze to dance through her hair and over her neck, a short-lived pleasure. Up the hood went, hiding her hair as she moved into the shadows of the trees, the stars disappearing from view. The hatch to the cellar was left open. Down the ladder she climbed, into the decrepit basement. She sat down on the old straw mattress and shivered.
Moxi didn’t want to sleep, but she lay down anyway, pondering what little she knew about herself. Her name was Moxanna. She was pretty sure she was seventeen years old. She was a sorceress, but her magic sometimes went haywire. She had been living here for about ten months. That was about it. She had no family or friends. She was alone. She refused to get emotional about it. That pain of abandonment had been buried long before she could even remember. Often, a nagging feeling in her gut whispered that she had something to fight for, but the more she tried to remember brought back the throbbing pain of repressed memories, cutting off her train of thought. She hoped after ten months she would be used to it. I’ll never be used to not knowing who I am, she thought just before sleep took over her thoughts.
Inside the tower of the proud Castle of the Sun, Princess Marissa awoke and sat up in bed. She was fed up with being the perfect princess that everyone expected her to be. Her subjects were envious of her because they assumed that as a princess she had the ultimate freedom and the ability to give orders to anyone and everyone. Oh, how mistaken they were, the princess thought. As princess, she was slave to everyone’s expectations, and she had to be gracious about it. No one ever listened to her. They told her when to sleep, when to wake, how to dress, what to eat, when to act certain ways, and what to do every moment of every day. The list seemed to grow every day. The worst was her father’s ban on archery and swordplay just for her. The only thing she hated more than being trapped as a princess was the color pink. She stood, a renewed desire and determination forcing her awake. She splashed some cold water on her face from her sink, then opened her dresser, popping open the secret drawer. Inside was some green material. Green was her favorite color. Green as the grass of the training grounds she couldn’t walk on anymore. Green like the forest she had only seen out her window. She unfolded the material and changed out of her hideous pink nightgown and into her new trousers and tunic. Much more comfortable and maneuverable. The matching sash was tied around her waist. She returned to her dresser and slid the mass of pink dresses aside to reveal a sword. The blade was silver, with a slight hint of green, the hilt embedded with green stones. Barely visible beneath the stones was the inscription that read Mira, meaning Integrity in the Archaic Language. After strapping the sword into her sash, she picked up a green bandana and tied it around her neck. She ran a brush through her short golden brown hair and pulled it up into a bun, slipping the bandana up over her nose. Turning to her dresser again, she reached up to the top and unscrewed one of the intricate carvings, revealing a circular opening that contained a bow and quiver of arrows. The princess slung both over her shoulder before reaching under her bed to pull out a long strand of blankets tied together. She tied one end to the curtain rod above her window, then released the rest out the window. She stood in the window, the cool air hugging her as she breathed in a new identity and practically spat out the old one.
Mari. How she adored her secret identity. For years she had been sneaking out to the training grounds at night to practice by herself. Before that she trained with her younger brother, Crown Prince Jeran,until her father had forbidden her from even looking at the training grounds ever again and sent away her instructor and only friend, Horad. Before he left, however, he gave her his prized bow, and requested that the best blacksmith forge her sword. She was thirteen then. For the past two years she had grown stronger and firmer in the values he had instilled in her from a young age. He taught her the Archaic word for Integrity, the name for her sword. He also made her promise that she would never give up on fighting, no matter what anyone told her. That had inspired her nightly escapades, but tonight was different.
After tonight, Mari would be known by the whole kingdom. She realized that she was shaking, but not from the crisp air dancing in from the window, and not from fear. She was excited. She grabbed the blanket and swung herself out the window, repelling from the top of the tower all the way to the ground. There were no guards around so she pulled out her sword and took a few practice swings, adjusting to the flexibility that this outfit gave her and warming up her muscles. Many times she had heard the ladies-in-waiting complain to the palace seamstress how bulky she was and how difficult it was to find clothing that fit her right. Mari found that everything the palace seamstress made for her was too restricting, which was exactly why she stole the green cloth and thread. Her mending lessons finally came in handy. Wouldn't her parents be so proud? They would never know it was her though. That’s why she wore the bandana. It shouldn’t matter who she actually was.
Last week she had heard rumors traveling around the servants about attacks on the borderlands. Lord Drazen had been building up an army for years, and sent many threats against Kydia. He had attacked the borderlands before, but his failed attempts left his silent for ayear. Then word spread of attacks again and Mari knew this was her chance to fight. Her father might ignore Lord Drazen, but Mari in good conscience could not. The people of her kingdom were suffering because of him. She was going to help. All of her training had prepared her for this. She would be exhausted tomorrow, but it would be worth it. She had prepared a horse in the stables a few hours earlier, now she was set to ride. She finally felt confident that her time and efforts as Princess would be worth it.
He woke up wrapped in a blanket in front of the crackling fire. At first he was confused and felt slightly delusional as his eyes scanned the small room but then something nudged his shoulder. “Jode, hey boy.” He reached over and scratched his hound behind the ears. Jode helped the boy sit up, despite his dizziness and exhaustion.
“Oh, you’re awake.” A man stood across the room and brought him a bowl. “Be careful, it’s been warming for awhile. Don’t burn yourself and don’t eat too fast or you’ll make yourself sick. How long has it been since you last ate?” He sat down on the floor next to the boy, offering the soup and a spoon. Jode paced around before sitting next to the man.
“Well, my dog trusts you so I guess I can too.” He reached for the bowl, revealing a dark red spot on his left palm.
“That mark, did you hurt yourself?”
“No, that’s been there for as long as I can remember. My mother told me it meant good things would happen, but nothing good has ever happened to me.” He took the bowl and spoon, self-conscious about the mark. It never could have meant anything good since anyone who saw it turned in away in fear and disgust. As he ate the soup he contemplated why he was even trying to get food and why he hadn’t already given up and let himself starve.
“Your mother was right, you know, about the mark. It is a good omen, but it can sometimes come at the cost of the wearer. What’s your name?”
“My name is Veran. It’s nice to meet you, Leo.” He reached out and patted Leo on the shoulder. “And your loyal companion?”
“Jode. Why are you being so nice to me? Most people hate beggars.”
“I know what that life is like. It isn’t fun. I just want to help. Do you have parents?”
“Dad left just after I was born, and Mom died a couple years ago. I don’t remember much about it. We lived in the Borderlands and there was a terrible attack. Almost everyone died. Those who survived said it was all my fault and they sent me away. Lord Drazen attacked, how could that be my fault?” Leo resisted the urge to throw his spoon and tried to rebury the anger and desperation that had resurfaced.
“Leo, it’s not your fault. A lot of people don’t understand that mark so they fear it. We all fear what we don’t totally understand.” Veran rested a hand on Leo’s shoulder.
Leo looked at Veran and couldn’t help but think of the father he never knew. Did he fear the mark too? Is that why he left? After what had happened to his mother, he himself had started to fear the mark too. Veran had been so nice to him, but he had to leave before something bad happened to this man. He looked at Jode and started to stand up. “Thank you for your hospitality, but I should leave now.”
“Wait, you can’t leave. I want to help. You want revenge on Lord Drazen for what he did, don’t you?”
Leo’s gray eyes looked in earnest at Veran, showing that he wanted nothing more out of the rest of his life.
“I can train you. I can make you ready to face Lord Drazen himself in combat. How else do you plan on getting revenge?”
“You’d help me?”
“My father was a great swordsman and he taught me everything he knows. I have no child to pass on my skills, but I do have you. Maybe it’s fadd, fate, that you came to my doorstep.” He took the empty bowl and spoon out of the boy’s hands, and led the boy upstairs. “Let’s get you settled in. We’ll start in the morning.”
A man huddled in the shadows of the Northern Mountains, barely visible as his pale skin blended into the rock behind him. Only two dark green eyes and a mess of brown hair stood out to show where he was. The gibbous moon had been out for a few hours, but the man still hid in the shadows, eyes fixated upon the speck of light in the sky as though in fear. Once the moonlight touched him, he would change. It was a painful change, one the figure should be accustom to, yet every night he found himself fleeing to the shadows completely at the mercy of the moon. Every night, except when the moon hit it’s fullest point for three nights in a row and it lost power over him. How he craved those nights of freedom, but that thought was lost as the shadow shifted and gave way to the light that touched the man, starting the transformation. It always began with the eyes. He felt his pupils tear open as they grew wider and his irises lightened in color, turning almost yellow. After the pain in his eyes stopped, his entire body turned hot white and he convulsed in pain as fur, shaggy and dark like the hair on his head, grew out of every pore. Involuntarily he clenched his jaw as it started to elongate into a snout. He forced his body to relax, struggling against the agony, so as to not hurt himself more as his teeth sharpened and short claws ripped out of each finger and toe to replace his nails. When the pain stopped, he fell onto the ground.
As the newly transformed humanoid-wolf picked himself off the cold ground, a note fell out of his grasp. It had been crumpled many times, and at one point it had gotten wet, ruining the writing, but he knew every word by heart. The beginning could still be read, “Zan, my son, I am so worried about you. Your anger towards your father is clouding your mind, twisting your judgment. Please come home. We need you. I need you…” Zan picked the paper up with all the care he had for his mother and tucked it away. It had been a long ten months since he had left his home. He shook out his fur, shaking off any thoughts of his family that the note had brought on, and assumed the position of a normal wolf. He needed speed tonight. He was leaving Kydia and moving quick was important. He had studied Lord Drazen and his armies. He needed to get there at just the right hour so the armies would be away and Lord Drazen would be vulnerable. Using the moon, he estimated the hour before setting off at top speed toward the southwest where he knew the Shadow Fortress sat in dark grandeur.
It wasn’t a terribly long trip, Zan had run much farther the night he left his home. He thought he’d have plenty of energy, but coming upon the dark brilliance of the Shadow Fortress he noticed a blackness that seemed to steal life from everything touched by the dark glory. Only his anger seemed to remain untouched. Slowing, he stood like a human and approached a site where he knew guards would be. When he glimpsed the guards, he made direct eye contact. Caught off-guard by the figure, they pointed their weapons at him and he raised his hands in surrender. They approached, cautious of the strange and intimidating creature in front of them.
“I mean no harm.”
One soldier jumped back and dropped his weapon. “It can talk,” he whispered.
“I wish to join Lord Drazen’s fight against Kydia. I wish to join his Black Battalion. I am a messed up, dark creature. My own family didn’t want me so I ran away. I have been without purpose. I can do great work here. Take me to Lord Drazen. He will see the work that I can do for him. I wish to serve him. Please, I have no place else to go.”
The second guard lowered his weapon but pulled out handcuffs. “We will take you to him.” He handcuffed Zan and the two soldiers walked him to the Shadow Fortress. It seemed abandoned until the gate was lowered. Zan was taken inside and the darkness swallowed him as the gate was closed.
So it's interesting how things have changed, right? It got me thinking while I'm writing Rose that my first draft really doesn't have to be perfect, because I'm going to have to revise and edit it like a hundred more times before presenting it to editors and publishers. That being said, I feel a lot less pressure as I'm writing now which in turn makes writing easier.
The other thing that I find so interesting is how much gets taken out completely when revising a novel. I don't know if it was the 6 years that passed or my creative writing classes, but things changed and I was able to look at it from a different point of view and cut out parts completely. It's interesting how writing a book is different than writing an essay for school where it's so much harder to cut out ideas and phrases, and I don't know why that is. I'd like to think that if I started writing Misunderstood now, the first chapter would pretty much sound the same as the first draft I posted. Most of the changes were made based off of feedback from friends who had read it, for example the ages were all changed to add time in which their backgrounds happened. I actually think that's the reason my characters in Rose are older too, which brings up another thought of how my old writing doesn't just influence how it is rewritten, but how everything I write is affected by feedback on something seemingly unrelated.
Again, I encourage all aspiring artists and writers to go back and study old creations because it really changes how you move forward with new things. Thanks for listening to me rambling on about probably nothing interesting.