A few months ago I talked about making the ‘Graveyard’ a folder in my google drive full of dead story ideas that were taking up space in my files so I discarded them in one neat little space because I can never truly get rid of anything. I talked about Death of a Prince, my first attempt at writing an unlikable royal protagonist. Last night, I remembered I had another version of my proto-Argus. I had the first two chapters of my very first attempt at writing Of Rust and Gold.
It was December 21st, 2015, sometime in the late afternoon according to the timestamp, when I wrote the first words of a chapter from Leo’s pov, snippets of which would later find themselves cannibalized into chapter fifteen of a much later draft. I think I’ve mentioned in passing that there was a time when I intended to write this story as historical fiction and somewhere I have some notes where it exists as a concept, but this was my first attempt at translating it into a fantasy setting. I apparently have not attempted to read it since 2017, so that means I didn’t even look it over before I started rewriting.
Where to even begin? Some notable changes that stuck out to me:
- Oskya does not exist or at least there’s no mention of it which means that Leo is said to have originally been in “the navy” it’s vaguely implied to be Escan’s navy (which is interestting because moving forward Escan will have no standing forces) and the stolen/missing ship is also non-existent.
- Damaris wears a dress. I mean, I guess that’s not notable but it’s not something she’d do in other drafts.
- Captain’s Dunham ship is named the ‘Nomad’ and this time he stole an Escana cargo ship.
- Speaking of, Captain Dunham’s first name is Luis instead of Mercy.
- Escan is an island.
- Argus still has older brothers but it’s never mentioned how many and they’re not named characters. I’ve gotten some flack over the years for making the family so big but I definitely feel like something is missing when Argus has missing siblings, without them the claims that he gets little respect or the chance to mess with Escan’s political stage seem empty.
- It almost pains me to mention this draft’s version of Hartanti. It feels off to know she was around before Leonides and also that in this version she actually is just a mistress and one with a personality that is…honestly insulting.
- King Frederick calls Damaris “Dara” for a reason I have long forgotten and no dot understand.
- I also think it’s clear that I had a different initial vision of the time period since I use “castle” and King Frederick is refered to as “Your Grace” which feels more medieval than what I eventually decided on.
- Really though, the biggest thing is the plot. Leo is still a witness to a crime and a prisoner himself but Argus seems more like he’s setting him up for failure and not trying to use him for leverage or as an ally.
I no longer remember what inspired me to scrap this beginning. I only got two chapters in and based on what I can see, they didn’t stay up for public viewing for very long either. Maybe it’s because what groundwork I laid for the relationship between Argus and Leo didn’t seem promising for romance? Somehow giving Argus more siblings, less freedom to make decisions, and less of a credible personality acted as an equalizer. Although I definitely cannot remember what made me set the beginning back further long before they meet, I do prefer it that way because reading this first attempt at them interacting just doesn’t feel like them. None of these characters feel the same. Damaris just seems angry, she doesn’t look like herself, and she comes off as the inherent problem in the relationship between her and Argus. King Frederick is just some dude, we don’t talk about Hartanti, and Leo isn’t himself either.
He just seems slimy. Or at least a bumbling drunk. I think it’s the absence of Mel and maybe that’s why I eventually created him. Without Mel, without the backstory, Leo does come off as just some guy with a criminal background and no motivation in the same way making Argus the youngest of ten allowed me to have a shiny, arrogant prince, but also one relatively bullied and looked down on.
I almost wish I had some notes just so I could see where I was going with this. I do guess it’s a shame I’ll never know but I also have no doubts that if I had completed this draft, it’d also currently be in the ‘Graveyard’.