Okay, keeping in line with the next month or so being “Mistborn 2 is coming out, everybody party!” month here, I’ve got more deleted goodness from the first Mistborn book. (Note the linkage at the bottom if you’re not aware of my two big signings coming up.)
Monday, I showed you the very first draft of the first chapter (or what eventually became the prologue) of Mistborn One. As I mentioned, I wrote it, but wasn’t particularly pleased with a lot of the elements. After I’d written myself into the book a few chapters, I came back to this one and did it over again. Here is the second draft of the chapter:
The sun was crimson. Bloody. Darkened by a sky perpetually clogged with smoke and ash, the sun beat down with a fierce heat that nearly of rivaled that of the fiery Ashmounts themselves.
The workers continued their labors. Heads bowed. Though their faces were damp with sweat and dirtied by soot, they dared not be seen pausing to wipe their brows.
The taskmasters watched with care. Whips held ready. The workers were only skaa—the Lord Ruler’s word for peasant—and it didn’t matter how many of them you beat to death, killed for sport, or worked to exhaustion. There were plenty more to take their place.
The plants were limp and brown. Nearly lifeless. Yet, the workers continued their labors, methodical and listless, forcing the uncooperative, blackened ground to spit forth crops. The skaa didn’t look up. They didn’t complain. They didn’t hope. They barely even dared to think.
And there, beneath the bleeding sun, amidst the despair and the soot, upon a land dying and scarred, one skaa man among the hundreds dared to look up.
His eyes defiant.
When the next taskmaster passed by on his rounds, he noticed an empty patch of ground not being worked. He paused, frowning, wondering if some skaa was shirking his duty. He turned and looked around at the rows and rows of workers. None of them met his eyes—they simply continued to labor with their normal, uncaring rhythm.
The taskmaster reached up and wiped his brow—cursing the summer heat—then shook his head, convinced that he was mistaken. There couldn’t be a worker missing. Skaa didn’t have the courage to run—besides, where would they go? This was the Final Empire, so named because it was eternal, all-encompassing, and all-powerful. Ruled by God himself, it was the last government man would ever need, want, or know.
No, the empty spot had probably just been created by the shuffling of working bodies. That, however, didn’t stop the taskmaster from lashing out with his whip at the skaa working nearby.
He didn’t really need a reason to beat them—they were only skaa, after all.
There are a few things you may notice here. First off, I retained the third person omnicient viewpoint. I eventually did decide to drop it. (As you can see in the final version of the chapter, which was published. I’ll post it eventually, after I post the next evolution of this chapter.) However, I hung on for a long time, trying to force this omnicient section to work.
Why did I want it so badly? Because I really liked that scene where Kelsier looked up, smiling and defiant. I wanted to introduce him like this, without being in his head, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do a limited viewpoint from one of the taskmasters or skaa. We’ll talk more about why I finally changed later.
Other things of note are that the koloss are gone, as is a lot (but not all) of the info-dumping from the first version. This one is a lot more readable, but I still made some mistakes that I’d eventually have to correct. You’ll notice that the first four paragraphs or so make a stab at a poetic parallelism (I use each one to describe an element of the scene in a similar way).
Problem is, this is overwritten (meaning it’s trying too hard to be poetic). I knew that omnicient here was going to be weak, and so I tried to distract from that by giving the section a poetic feel that just didn’t end up working, in my opinion.