Thursday, April 1, 2010

Alternate Version Blogfest!

Happy April Fool's Day everyone! I was thinking of putting up a fake post saying I'd gotten a book deal/agent/puppy, but I decided not to tempt fate and just go ahead with the Alternate Version Blogfest instead :)

The Alternate Version Blogfest is about taking a passage from your WIP and rewriting it in a few different styles. If you follow the link above, it will take you to Livia Blackburne's blog so you can check out the other participants. Some really great bloggers are taking part (Livia, DL Hammons, and SE Sinkhorn among others) so it's worth a click!

I've deliberately set out to use genre cliches, by the way, so please don't take offence if you write historical romances that aren't obsessed with what society thinks, or if your chick-lit is a Martini-and-Manolo-free-zone. No insult is intended to any of the genres parodied.

And the last one isn't just a new genre - I also switched point of view. Just because.

Here's the passage I used - it may look a bit familiar, as it cropped up in the Love At First Sight blogfest on Valentine's Day too. The rewrites are all a lot shorter, too, I promise.

Original Version, from The Home (literary women's fiction-ish)

Rosie sprang up behind Elizabeth just as she was telling Billy exactly where her house was.
“Lizzie! Who's your suitor?” she joked. Elizabeth's heart sank.
Billy laughed. “I'm Billy McCarthy. And you must be Black Rosie, who else could you be?”
Something in Billy's voice made Elizabeth's insides tremble. There were two Rosies around Clonleth, and they had gone to the same school. To distinguish them, the boys called Rosie Martin 'Black Rosie' because her hair was the colour of new leather shoes. The girls had never adopted this habit and called both Rosies by their full names – except Elizabeth, who called them “my Rosie” and “the other Rosie”.

Sometimes in the shop, Elizabeth heard people allude to Rosie in ways she didn't like – that she was “fast”, that she was “troublesome”, that she was “popular”. Elizabeth had some idea what they meant – she knew she was naive but she also wasn't stupid – but she could never bring herself to believe it. Rosie was wild and funny, and Elizabeth had always felt she was running to keep up with her, but she was a good person. Elizabeth was certain of this because she kept a running tally in her head of incidents that proved Rosie's goodness, and whenever Rosie upset her – which was often – she used them to construct a defence of her friend. She had listed these incidents so many times that she had a private shorthand for them, and a single word could stand for an episode in their friendship that had strung out for weeks.

Elizabeth didn't want Billy to know that Rosie's reputation wasn't perfect. She also didn't want to think about how he seemed to know it already.


Liz Sullivan's heart jerked at the sound of her name. She turned.
‘Who’s your suitor?’ Rosie Martin was leaning on the back of her chair.
Billy laughed. ‘I’m Billy McCarthy. And you must be Black Rosie.’
‘How did you know?’ Rosie asked.
‘Who else could you be?’ Billy said, and he smiled.
Liz struggled to keep her breathing even and her face blank. If Billy knew who Rosie was, that could blow the whole operation. Liz had faith in Rosie, but still – she was a loose cannon, and everyone knew it.

Historical Romance

‘Elizabeth!’ She felt a hand on her shoulder. ‘Who’s your suitor?’
Mr. McCarthy laughed, his blue eyes crinkling at the corners. ‘I’m Mr. McCarthy,’ he said, extending his hand. ‘Delighted. And you may rest assured, madam, that your reputation precedes you. Do I have the honour of addressing the famous Black Rosie Martin?’
There was an archness in his tone that Elizabeth didn’t like, and a teasing smile played across his lips.
He couldn’t know of the stains on Rosie’s reputation, could he? It was certainly true that she had been forced to shift for herself from a young age, and that she had been driven to certain . . . social transgressions due to her circumstances. But she was a sweet girl, really, and Elizabeth still hoped that she could find a place in society. She swallowed anxiously.


I swiveled, almost falling off the bar stool. Rosie was making a beeline for us, tripping slightly on the carpet in her Manolo Blahniks. My heart sank.
‘And who’s this?’ Rosie asked, smiling and extending her hand to Will.
‘I’m Will,’ he said, smiling back. ‘And you must be the Rosie I’ve heard so much about.’

This always bloody happened. Every time I met a nice guy, I got eclipsed by her as soon as she showed up. If she wasn’t my best friend I would have been planning some serious revenge on her wardrobe with a sharp pair of sewing scissors.
Except I wouldn’t. Because I’m a good girl, and good girls don’t, right?
I stirred my martini desultorily.

Hard-boiled PI.

He’d been talking to Elizabeth for a while, trying to find out how much she knew and if any of it was useful, when a black-haired broad came over to their table and tried cracking wise with him.
‘So who’s this?’ she asked, her lip curling.
‘Don’t get cute, sister, you know who I am. And I know exactly who you are.’ Billy said, his voice barely above a growl.
He watched fear shoot across Elizabeth’s face. She was too good for a place like this, for a set-up like this. And there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it.
‘You know her?’ Elizabeth asked.
‘I’ve heard of her.’ Billy said, and his gaze flicked back to the broad. ‘The boys call you Black Rosie.’


  1. Oh Hard-boiled PI!!

    That really works - I vote for Hard-boiled PI!


    The Chick-lit comes a very close second tho...

    What a fun thing to do!


    Take care

  2. Hardboiled PI was definitely the most fun to write :D

    I also learned that the original version could do with being a lot shorter!

  3. I liked thriller. The fact that Rosie was a loose cannon. Interesting exercise.

  4. Ha! I love what you did with these. You really changed the voice and tone each time. Nice job.

  5. LOVED each of these! You did a fantastic job with this exercise!! Great job capturing the tone of Historical Romance, and the voice of the PI version was awesome. You rocked this blogfest!

  6. What a great idea, and you did a brilliant job with each. Really enjoyed reading them!

  7. I loved Hard Boiled Pi! I think maybe just because I am partial to male PoV :) This is amazing! I can't believe how much you did with this short scene!!

  8. The Hard Boiled PI was great...I think I actually heard bluesy music and smelled cigarette smoke while reading it. Great entries!

  9. Nice job. I found it very amusing that the cliche term "loose cannon" was used for a female. It gave it an interesting element considering the "genre" of that section. lol

    Well done on such a variety of versions.

  10. I love the P.I one. "Cracking wise with him"! For me, Billy looked an awful lot like Emerson Cod.

    The historical fiction version reminded me a bit of Austen's Emma, and Harriet.

  11. Love these!!! How awesome!!! I really enjoyed them all!

  12. Oh wow, I got a mention by name <3

    These were a lot of fun to read. So many different styles! Well done :) I liked the PI and Thriller versions best!

  13. Hard boiled PI hands down! Sure you don't want to write one?
    Excellent! You are such a fabulous writer!

  14. I think you've got these genres down perfectly. Especially switching to first person in chick-lit, bringing out the flicking gazes for the PI... brilliant satire. And very fun to read. And still, my favourite of all of it is this line in your original scene: "Elizabeth didn't want Billy to know that Rosie's reputation wasn't perfect. She also didn't want to think about how he seemed to know it already." That's such a great hook.

  15. Hi guys, thank you all for the lovely feedback :D You just got my long weekend off to great start!

    One thing I did learn from that exercise - the original may be a bit too long. . .

  16. Haha, I love the hard boiled PI as well. "black haired broad"... And I also like the martini in the chicklit

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  19. What fun these are! I think I like the original best – interesting that you seem to have found a revision idea through a fun exercise like this.
    Thanks for adding to the fun!
    My entry was added late that night: – I'd love your thoughts!

  20. Ellen,
    You were right in your comment! I'll wait a little bit to see if anyone else gets it before I make it visible. :)

    I read your 4/2 post and for what it's worth, I like your blog! As for pages, is there a way to do a page of the books you've read, or at least your faves? Longer bio is good for people who want a more in-depth read...

  21. Hi Margo, thanks for letting me know I was right :) Can't wait to see other people's guesses.


I love comments!