Friday, June 10, 2005
Brave Soul Steps Up For Edit
Yup, we got ourselves a taker. Today you’ll read the action scene sent in by a courageous BG.
First, some other news. Yesterday I had a very fun radio interview with two entertaining guys—Ken and Steve from The Neon Fish show on KKHT 100.7FM in Houston, Texas. We taped three 8-minute segments for the show. It will air tomorrow, Sat. June 11, at 4:00 p.m. Central time. Texans, I s’pose you can tune in on the ol’ radio. The rest of you will be able to hear it live on http://kkht.com. After the fact, you can go to that Web site, click on The Neon Fish guys at the top, then click on the blue button for interview archives. Or so I’ve been told. Ken and Steve talked to me about my writing, my teaching, and God’s healing. These guys impressed me with their homework. I mean, they knew about me. They hadn’t exactly read every one of my books, but they had clearly spent time on my Web site and this blog. Plus they even knew other stuff, such as I “do skits” and “like to play practical jokes on other authors.”
All right, BGs, who out there’s been tellin' stories on me?
If they’d mentioned my frog face at my signing last week, I’d a really been freaked.
Okay. On to the scene for edit. I have pulled this excerpt right from the middle of the scene sent to me. Set-up: Abusive ex boyfriend shows up unannounced, bringing less than favorable intentions.
In an instant, he spun her whole body around, and her shoulder pummeled into Spirit. The horse panicked and jumped away, ripping the reins out of her hand.
Vince’s fist landed on her cheekbone, and she was vaguely aware of the horse bolting out the door before she felt the pain and stumbled.
Vince was upon her. He grabbed a fistful of her jacket and yanked her to her feet. “It’s time you learned something, Darling.” He stuck his face in hers, his stale cigar breath assaulting her. “I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
She closed her eyes, gasping. If she resisted, he’d make it worse. She managed a feeble, “Vince, please, don’t.”
“You pitiful excuse for a woman.” He hit her again, a swift bash on her left temple. The blow made the room turn black around the edges. But she didn’t lose consciousness.
Vince let her crumple to the floor.
“Worthless piece of trash,” he said.
She tried to look up at him. “If you just leave me alone . . . I . . . I promise I’ll never tell a soul what you did. Just let me go. Why won’t you let me go?”
He picked her up by the jacket again and shoved her against a stall door. She groaned as pain shot through her back. He’d pushed her against the metal latch.
“Oh, it’s too late, Christy. I’ve given you more than enough chances.”
“Please. . .”
He backhanded her across the face. She fell to her knees, clutching her nose as warm blood dripped into her fingers.
“I don’t know what I ever saw in you. You’re certainly nothing to look at.”
She glanced up at the caricature of his once handsome face. How could she ever have loved this man?
Vince pulled a wad of rope out of his jacket pocket. “Not even worth the air you breath.”
That’s when she realized the awful truth. He wasn’t just doing this to frighten her. He intended to kill her, and every ounce of survival instinct she had kicked in. She searched for a weapon. Bale of straw. Horse comb. Bottle of saddle soap. Shovel. She locked onto that. It leaned against the wall by the door. Could she crawl fast enough?
“Get up,” Vince ordered.
Christy started to rise in a slow, defeated way, but the second she got her feet underneath herself, she lunged for the door, and the shovel. Grasping it with both hands, she willed her eyes to focus on Vince, and hurled it at his head.
The shovel met it’s mark with a revolting thud. Vince’s hands flew to his face, and he moaned as he sagged to the floor. She froze, shocked she’d actually wounded him. What was she doing? She had to get of here! Move!
Christy ran. Into the yard, past the pickups. The house! Get to the house! Lock the door. Maybe she could figure out how to use one of those guns before Vince could break in.
And then she saw the most beautiful creature in the entire world, Spirit, a snowy apparition standing in the middle of the yard, waiting for her. For a split second she hesitated. Should she race for the house or try to mount the gelding when she could barely see straight?
Vince decided for her. He appeared in the barn doorway still holding his head, his eyes ablaze. She wouldn’t make the house.
Adrenaline propelled her to Spirit, and she frantically gathered the reins, struggling to get her foot in the stirrup.
Glance behind. Vince was running toward her.
Clutching Spirit’s mane, she summoned all her strength, pulled herself up, and made it!
This author has done many things well. Fortunately we don’t have to go back to the basics. POV stays in the head of Christy. The scene isn’t slowed with too much thought. We can follow the action clearly. This certainly isn’t a poorly written scene. But how can we make it better?
Let me ask you--does the scene zing? Did you feel the action along with Christy?
On Monday (because you’ve put me in the habit of cliffhanging you), we’ll look at some suggested edits. Until then—think about these issues:
1. Speaker attributes (“he said,” etc.)
2. Rhythm of sentences (particularly length)
3. Verb choice
4. Action/reaction sequence
5. Tightness of writing
6. Depth of character response/emotion
How would you change some of these aspects in the scene?
Read Part 2-10
Read Part 11-19