Defining, Refining and expanding Sandcastles



types pages

With the first draft I have told the story. Once you have that all important first draft you are ready to begin the real work. I like to leave that very raw first draft to sit for a month or two, maybe even more often beginning a whole new story. The interesting thing is that even though you have put the story ‘to bed’ it remains in your mind, unconsciously developing and maturing like a good wine or tasty cheese. Sometimes you might have flashes of thought about it and make notes, but mostly you don’t consciously think about it.

Some will make a hard copy others will work straight on the screen.

So sometime later I open up my draft and review the outline, the character profiles and the other material I have collated and reread the back story. In fact I immerse myself in the material. There are many things which I the writer must consider when I begin to re-write.

Now I the author become the narrator. As I work through the draft I become the eyes for the reader showing them now instead of telling them. But you must pace your story – fast enough to excite the reader, but not too fast that you exhaust them part way through.

“Show, don’t tell” should not be applied to all incidents in a story. According to James Scott Bell, “Sometimes a writer tells as a shortcut, to move quickly to the meaty part of the story or scene. Showing is essentially about making scenes vivid. If you try to do it constantly, the parts that are supposed to stand out won’t, and your readers will get exhausted.”[6] Showing requires more words; telling may cover a greater span of time more concisely.[7] novel that contains only showing would be incredibly long; therefore, a narrative can contain some legitimate telling. James Scott Bell

lightning demo

Adding description, often this first rework will be full of boring adjectives – anything just to get the meaning and the description on the page; such as ‘slowly walked’ or ‘turned swiftly’. These can be changed to options like sauntered, ambled, or tiptoed depending on what nuances I want to awaken as I fine tune my story. And you must get details consistent for example your heroine must have blue eyes all the way through the story.

To build in the richness of the story you need to pay attention to the setting.  In the first draft I might put ‘it was stormy’ or a ‘huge thunderstorm’. But with the second and subsequent drafts it is important to tap into all the senses of the reader, to bring them into the story, have them feeling what the protagonist is feeling. Sight of course is often the dominant sense – but do not forget sounds, smell, touch and taste. And not to be overlooked the ‘sixth sense’ – that shiver along the skin or the prickle of hairs on the neck even when there is no visible cause for the sense of unease or fear.

So something like ‘huge thunderstorm’ becomes;

Overhead, thunder rattled and moaned. Iridescent flashes of lightening formed a kaleidoscope of shadows and eerie blue light. Despite the heat, Kayla shivered.

“Out!” he growled, thrusting her across the wide veranda and down the steps.

All around the world vibrated with the brutal force of thunder. Huge drops of rain smacked against her exposed skin. Kayla jumped as a fork of lightening ripped through the darkness, illuminating everything in silvery blue as it grounded itself in the middle of the lawn.

They stared at each other. His eyes appeared to fill with searing chips of dry ice that burnt into her soul. Diamantes of water dripped from his dark hair and ran in silken rivulets down his cheeks, highlighting the beard shadow on his jaw. Kayla stared—fascinated, her fingers twitched with the desire to brush them away. The moisture on her skin sizzled under the palm of his hand and Kayla stirred restlessly against the familiar ache his touch evoked. His grip loosened. Their awareness of each other cocooned them from the tempest of the storm. She swayed closer; a tiny moan forced its way past her lips. The collision with his body heat ignited a heady explosion of need that shattered the spell.

Kayla jerked back and shook the rain from her eyes. “I’m not leaving. Do what you want, but I’m sleeping in my grandmother’s bed tonight!” she shouted at him.

Another flash of blue fire from the sky dived for the ground. The boom from accompanying thunder burst over their heads. They both crouched.

“Inside, Kayla, before we get hit,” he yelled.

They sprinted up the steps and into the house.

(Excerpt from Demolition of the Heart)

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The time line is essential to the structure of the story. Each scene must build on the other or provide a satisfying conclusion. In this draft it is important to track the time lines and make sure all is in place to drive the story forward. You do not want your characters eating a cake before it was baked or in my case I had Logan in Deathly Embrace light the fire twice. It was picked up and became ‘he lit the fire’ and ‘he stoked’ the fire.


Tired and grubby, Logan set the fire in the dining room, ordered pizza to be delivered then stripped and headed for the shower. As the hot water sluiced over his body, he toyed with ideas for the bathroom. The current bathroom was a huge area that could be divided into two bathrooms or a large bathroom with spa and toilet, and a second, separate toilet. He also thought about the laundry, because that was the same size and he wondered if he could turn the adjacent room into the master bedroom and make half the laundry into an additional bathroom.

 And two pages down

After collecting his pizza and doing a quick inspection of the house to ensure he was the only human occupant, he stoked the fire in the dining room hearth and settled down to eat. He suspected the ruckus in the bathroom had been caused by Cat or some other animal trying to escape after coming through the open windows last night, but then… he couldn’t explain the open windows.

(Excerpts from Deathly Embrace.)


 So now the story flows, your timeline is in place, you have described the setting, played on the senses and have all the eyes the right color. It is looking good. You are encouraged by what you have created. ‘It is a good yarn’ a friend of mine would describe it. But there is more… and it is not a set of steak knives. Return for Part three soon in the meantime take a look at Demolition of the Heart, Deathly Embrace or my newest offering Blood Ties a Broken Heart. To read as a writer is to learn.