Evolution of First Paragraphs

 I’ve been feeling retrospective lately and felt like dredging up the first paragraphs from each version of my novel, save one that has been lost to the ravages of time. After the first one here the main events in the first scene have remained consistent, but sometimes the circumstances surrounding it have changed.

1st Draft

“Duck!” 

2nd Draft

The platform stank of exhaust and urine. A young, lanky man shiftily gave an older man with greying hair a wad of cash in exchange for a packet of pills. They walked off in opposite directions. The younger man joined a gang hanging around on one end of the platform, ignoring the yellow safety line.

3rd Draft

The platform stank of exhaust and urine. Behind the toilets, an adolescent boy exchanged a wad of cash for a packet of pills with a grizzled man in a tan trenchcoat. The teenager joined a gang on one end of the platform, ignoring the yellow safety line.

4th Draft

The platform stank of exhaust and urine. In a dark corner, a scrawny teenager handed a grizzled, trenchcoat-wearing man a wad of cash in exchange for a packet of pills. The boy slipped away to join a gang at the opposite end of the platform, ignoring the yellow safety line.

5th Draft

The platform stank of exhaust and urine. In the dark corners of the station, shabby people exchanged cash and packets of pills. A teenage boy, the smallest of the lot, sat on the edge of a frozen bench, rubbing his numb hands together. He would have preferred to stay away from the drug dealings, but a gang stood on the other side of the platform, ignoring the yellow safety line and high-fiving someone who had brought back some white pills.

The second to fourth drafts of these paragraphs are essentially the same, with some word-tweaking going on. The first was a completely different scene which I later replaced because it made no sense. The latest version as of yet I think is better than the others, but I might later remove the safety line part. The fifth draft also marks the most significant change to the first chapter of the story since I rewrote the beginning for the second draft. While the first scene in the fifth draft remains similar, having the same end result, the buildup is different and the main character, the small boy, is introduced earlier. Hopefully that will clear up any misunderstanding as to who the main character is. If you want to read a little bit more of my latest version of the first chapter, I posted a small part in the previous post.

Edit: Here’s the sixth draft, which isn’t much different from the fifth other than a slight tightening of wording in places:

The platform stank of exhaust and urine. In the dark corners of the station, shabby people exchanged cash and packets of pills. A teenage boy, the smallest of the lot, sat on the edge of a frozen bench, rubbing his numb hands together. He would have preferred to avoid the drug dealings, but a gang stood on the other end of the platform, high-fiving someone who had brought back a bag of white pills.

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2 thoughts on “Evolution of First Paragraphs

  1. I love the first paragraph of the fifth draft! And yeah, watching as opening sentences/paragraphs evolve from draft-to-draft is very interesting.
    I read through the first paragraph of the first draft of my WIP, INK, and cringed in embarrassment. So naturally, I was elated when I read through the opening of draft two.
    Best wishes!
    =)

    Like

    • Thanks. I definitely think it’s my best yet. I might even be able to improve further on it.

      I’d be surprised to find somebody who doesn’t cringe at their first drafts. I know I do.

      Best wishes to you too 🙂

      Like

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