The Drafting of the First Silverlake Book – Unicorn Dreams

Building up characters and places are a beginning but there still has to be a good story and I did not get there in one draft.  Below I have put and early opening of Chapter of Book One which then was called Unicorn Wishes.  Even the title was changed.

Chapter One

Lila was alone in the palace kitchen polishing the bottom of a big brass saucepan when she heard the old oak door creak open.  She didn't look up but polished even harder.  She should have finished by now and expected Cook to be cross.  But she had been thinking about unicorns.  

Yesterday, down by the river, after a secret swim, when she was shaking out her wings and hair to dry, she had felt somebody watching her.  Turning to look she had seen a shining silver-white unicorn, his golden horn glinting in the early morning sun, a breathtakingly beautiful beast.  But the most extraordinary thing about him was his mane and tail, they were the exact same colour as her own purple hair, and his hooves, the identical sparkling colour of her fingernails.  Lila understood that unicorns should be silver-white all over and stared in awe.  The unicorn stared back with an interested gleam in his eye.  She had tried not to blink but couldn't help herself and, in that moment of unseeing, he vanished.

Cook said you didn't see unicorns by accident.  Lila knew different.  There was absolutely no reason why a unicorn should bother with her.  He couldn't have been concentrating or was expecting someone else - not a skivvy from the Fairy Queen's kitchen.  But his colouring had delighted her.  A unicorn with a purple mane and tail was romantic and unusual like herself.  She was the only purple fairy in the Fairy Queen's palace and for all she knew, in the whole world.

And when you read the book published book the opening is quite different.

Chapter One

Lila swam beneath the rippling water, supple as a fish, her purple hair flowing over folded wings.  Her purple fingernails sparkled as she broke the surface and took a deep breath.  It was time to go.  The sun was higher in the sky than she expected and Cook would be cross if she arrived late in the palace kitchen.  

On the riverbank, Lila shook a rainbow of water droplets from her wings and squeezed out her hair and threadbare gossamer dress.

"Am I really clever enough to try for Fairy Charm School?" she wondered.  It was a question on her mind a lot at present.  A decision had to be made.  It was the best school in Fairyland, after all.  "Cook thinks I'm good enough but I'm not so sure," Lila said to herself.  She stretched her shimmering wings.  Soon they would be strong enough to carry her high into the sky.  She was about to try a little flutter when she realised somebody was watching her.  

A silver-white unicorn stood on the far side of the palace lawn where a moment ago there had been nothing.  On his forehead a golden horn glinted in the 0early morning sun.  Lila could hardly believe what she was seeing.  His mane and tail were the exact same purple as her hair; his hooves the identical sparkling tones of her fingernails.  Surely unicorns were silver-white all over?  The unicorn returned her gaze with an interested gleam in his eye, until, with a stamp and a snort, he vanished.

I don't think I know any writer that doesn't re-draft.  With the earlier books I re-drafted five or six times to get it right.  It was hard work but worth every moment to get the story just as Megan and I wanted it.