Although readers are generally interested in a writer’s final product, it can be interesting to see the early process. Drafts can be funny, surprising, and illuminating. For example…
Joseph Conrad’s preface to Victory:
Conrad had trouble deciding on the right wording to convey his meaning in this preface. He was hesitant about using the word “victory” in relation to World War 1, and he couldn’t decide whether he was worried about “misleading,” “deceiving” or another word I can’t make out (any guesses?) the public.
Sylvia Plath’s outline for The Bell Jar:
This outline was written two years before The Bell Jar was published. Since no copy of the manuscript draft survives, this outline is the only evidence of Plath’s original intentions for the book. Apparently Plath had planned a “coda” of two extra chapters at the end of the book. There are also smaller changes, such as the character of Joan starting out as Jane.
Marcel Proust’s draft of Remembrance of Things Past:
Shirley Hazzard’s draft for The Great Fire:
Both Proust and Hazzard show that, no matter the time period, the first draft is never the final draft. How either could even decipher their edits is a mystery.
Mark Twain’s notebook:
Twain, pondering the concept of a doctor writing a play, jotted down several potential character names, including Siphillis Briggs, Asphyxia Beedle, and Typhoid Billings.
Would you want to see your favourite author’s early drafts and notes? Share in the comments…