The Original Beginning


photo by Flickr’s Pink Sherbet Photography

The first draft of The Moon Sisters is similar in some ways to the final draft of The Moon Sisters, but it is also very different. In the first draft, I experimented with writing a third-person point-of-view for Olivia, among other things.

Here’s a peek of the first graph of my first draft of this story:

My sister began staring at the sun shortly after our mother died, because she swore it smelled like her. For me, it would always be the scent of oven gas, because that’s how Mama went—fumes pouring out, her breathing them in. Like Sylvia Plath, my father said, because Mama was a tortured writer, too, but I don’t think it was suicide.

How does this differ from the final? In two significant ways.

  1. The final draft includes a short chapter called Ground Zero: The End of the Beginning. It’s in Olivia’s perspective, as opposed to Jazz’s perspective (above) and reveals what it was like for Olivia the day her mother died. That new content added drama, heart, and deep empathy for one of our protagonists, right from the start.
  2. Though the above graph is mostly the same as what you’ll read once you begin Chapter One: The Foolish Fire of Olivia Moon, it’s significantly different in that Jazz says here, “I don’t think it was suicide.” Ultimately, I worked out that Jazz does believe her mother killed herself, and that it is Olivia who rejected that idea.

First drafts are exploratory, and I definitely use them for that purpose. With time and thought, with input from critique partners and editors, and with lots of roll-up-the-sleeves hard work, stories are bettered.

You can read an except of Ground Zero and Chapter One right here.

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Therese Walsh