When Characters Re-Write Themselves

In a couple of my previous posts, I mentioned that I was working on the first draft of one of my current works-in-progress, a YA novel called The Dreamon. Well, I'm pleased to announce that it is DONE (The first draft, I mean, not the whole book!).

It's clocked in at around 25,000 words, which is much shorter than I'd like, but I figure I can expand it during the second draft. And that's what I'm working on now -- the second draft.

This particular second draft is a drastically different process to what I normally do, because it involves typing everything that I wrote in my first draft (my first draft was written in a pair of notebooks using a trusty pencil) into the computer. As I go, I edit. It's quite exciting, because I can watch the story take shape right there on the page. Plus, writers' block is a virtual impossibility, since I've already written everything.

Of course, it does take time. But writing everything out again actually helps me to spot the mistakes that I missed before, on a grammatical level as well as on a story level. The strangest development, however, is something that happened to my protagonist during the transition from first draft to second draft.

My protagonist is called Lucy. In the first draft, she was unsure and a bit wimpy, almost a damsel in distress. In the second draft, however, she seems to have re-written herself. Now, she comes across as sarcastic, witty, and stubborn. It wasn't even that much that changed -- just tweaking the dialog and some of her actions. But it all adds up to make her entire character take a U-turn.

To illustrate, here is a snippet of dialog from the first draft:

"I am a Dreamon. That is all."
"A Dreamon?" I repeated. "What's that?"
"Oh, I thought you could at least figure that one out," said the Dreamon. "You humans are always combining words together nowadays."
"Dream Demon," I said, with a shudder.
 And here is the same dialog, but the second draft version:

“I'm your Dreamon. Hello!”
“Am I supposed to know what that is?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Oh, I thought you could at least figure that one out,” said the Dreamon.
I sighed. “Dream demon. I'm not stupid.”
As you can see, first-draft Lucy was quite timid in the face of her Dreamon. By contrast, second-draft Lucy is more snarky and defiant. I don't know about you, but I know which one I would rather read about.

A quick sketch of Lucy. Why not?


  1. Congratulations, Ellie. Exciting times! Well done to Lucy on getting a bit of sass. Looks like she'll cope very well with a Dreamon in her life. Great concept, btw!

    Helen Laycock