This post is approximately 600 words. A newer version of this section lives here: Spring in Dappledown.
I’ve had several requests to start sharing some passages from the book. This is flattering, yet somewhat terrifying due to the personal nature of the work. This might seem counter-intuitive, I mean, isn’t the point of writing a novel to have it published?
But since I’m working on the first draft, there’s the challenge of sharing something that’s not quite ready for eyes other than my own. To be clear, the following excerpt needs some polish and additional detail. Many artists, myself included, want to give you a specific experience, something an unfinished work doesn’t necessarily do. Also, if the draft passage sucks (technical term), you might be under-presenting your abilities. Hopefully.
I think that’s enough caveats and deprecation for now. Here is the introduction of the main character, Tildy, the girl who lost her family, her kingdom, and even her name.
Spring in Dappledown
Tildy sat upright so quickly, her head swam. Eyes blinking slowly in the dim morning light, her fuzzy brain struggled to comprehend where she was. Trying to calm her heaving breaths, she closed her eyes. She was in bed. In her room on the second floor of the cottage.
She was glad to be awake. It was the dream again—that shadow in the tall tower. It thrilled and terrified her in a way that meant it was not an unwelcome recurrence. But she always woke up exhausted, as though it were less dream and more reality. She focused on the last image in her mind: had there been a crying baby? As usual, the details scattered like butterflies in a storm.
Yawning, she scratched at her scalp; short, spiky hair staying wherever it was moved. Figuring that, since she was awake, she might as well get up, Tildy slid out of bed and walked to the shuttered window. She inhaled the fragrant scents of the garden as she opened the shutters and looked outward.
The sun had risen, but had not yet crested the trees. A finer Spring morning had not been seen this season. The Forest of Eddlweld comprised the margins of the view from her window, glowing like an emerald treasure trove as sunlight filtered through translucent leaves of every verdant hue.
In a clearing, however, the greens gave way to myriad flowering jewels that would have made any King’s Treasurer jealous: poppy, orange marigold and sunflower, saffron, green chrysanthemum, and blue borage, lavender and thistle, frumusetea, and white datura.
Beside them, herbs and vegetables grew out of tilled earth. Things blossomed in their own time in the garden of Dappledown, and sometimes more than once in the growing year. The entire garden had a wild, but tended look to it, thanks in part to the animals that ate the weeds and pruned foliage: deer and rabbit and bird.
At just over 300 words, it’s a quick read, but it establishes some details of the main character (something haunts her dreams; she has short hair; she’s not a layabout), as well as the primary location for the first third of the book (a cottage within a garden hidden in the forest; it’s springtime; animals are not only welcome, they help tend the garden). In the coming months, I’ll clean up some of the non-standard sentence structure, check for passive sentences, remove over-writing, and do other writer-y stuff (another technical term).
I’ll also share additional sections that have a bit more polish on them. Hopefully, this gives a sense of the writing process. Perfection isn’t found in the first draft, nor should it be.
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© Michael Wallevand, June 2016
Nothing makes you want to edit a piece of content like one that’s out there for public scrutiny. I’ve already reworked much of this excerpt, smoothing some of the language and pulling up other useful information that I’d buried in the first chapter.
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