By Kelly Swemba

Hi everyone, I’m so honored to be able to share my first lines from MISSING VIOLET. Thank you to Sara for this opportunity! Looking back at the story is interesting because the lines changed, but the sentiment was always there. Let’s start with the first version I can find.

7/29/2020 Title BALOONS TO HEAVEN…

Violet was vibrant.

She was always the first picked during recess,

volunteered to be last at the water fountain,

and shined as she shared her stories during show and tell.

Then one day, her color started to fade.

And fade…

…and fade. 

She didn’t come to school the next day.

So above I basically tell it all in that first line! But I had this vision of a girl who was full of light and kindness. She was selfless and wanted to always help others. I envisioned her getting sick and the color draining from the book. But there was more work to do. 

I shared my story with critique groups, on the forum of 12x12 and even with RATE YOUR STORY. This story wouldn’t let go of me, but the lines needed work! Let’s take a look at this next attempt. (Do know MANY little changes and drafts happened between these two, but I don’t want to bore you!)

1/8/2021 Title: THE COLORS OF GRIEF

Violet and Mia paired like peanut butter and jelly - best when together. 


Falling off the monkey bars hurt less because Mia had a friend like Violet. 

Games were more fun with Violet because she always invited others to play.

And if Mia wanted to draw, Violet drew with her. (Art: Kids making chalk drawings/art.)

So here, I’ve introduced a new character. Someone who directly benefits from Violet’s kindness. In doing this, I can show the reader how Violet acted instead of telling them. Truth, I LOVED that first line! But it had nothing to do with the story. This is key, you can’t just use analogies if they don’t have a place – the rest of the story never references this PB&J idea. This was a darling I had to say goodbye to.

I also wanted to try first person. (A previous draft had it and I really liked how vulnerable the MC was and how it made connecting to her easier.)

So here’s the final opening to MISSING VIOLET.

Violet was my best friend and an expert at spreading sunshine.

Her healing hugs made falls hurt less. 

Games were more fun because Violet invited others to join.

And when I felt like drawing, Violet drew with me. 

But something changed.

And one day Violet went home sick.

Thank you for letting me share my first lines with you! And again, thank you for all of your love and support for MISSING VIOLET! Good luck to you on your writing journey!