Friday, June 17, 2005

Editing, Day 5--Action/Reaction Sequence

Thanks for the comments yesterday about some further action/reaction sequence issues in our AS. Wayne and Stuart both caught some problems. Today I’m going to finish the rest of the A/R sequence edit. I didn’t find as many problems in the rest of the scene—most of the them occurred in the beginning, as we saw yesterday. Some of my changes fix illogical sequences. Some fill in gaps. In one—where Christy’s nose is bloodied, I felt Christy should feel the pain before the blood appears. Today's changes will be in red. These scene will include what we did yesterday, so you can see the scene in total, edited for A/Rs (and everything else that we’ve done so far).

Of course, in rewriting this, I’m making decisions that the author of our AS may not want to make. And inevitably, I end up writing in my voice rather than hers. So the last thing I’d want to suggest is that this rewrite is the only way to go. It’s simply my way of fixing the problems—you may think of other ways.

At the end of this scene I’ll introduce our next big challenge for Monday.
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 crunched into her cheekbone. Her head jerked sideways, pain exploding through her face. Christy stumbled.

Spirit bolted out the door.

Vince grabbed a fistful of her jacket and stuck his face in hers. His stale cigar breath assaulted her. “It’s time you learned something, Darling. I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

She squeezed her eyes shut. If she resisted, he’d make it worse. “Vince, please, don’t.”

“You pitiful excuse for a woman.” He hit her again, a swift bash on her left temple. The blow blackened the room, fuzzed its edges. She fought against the dizziness.

Vince threw her to the floor. “Worthless piece of trash.”

She pled with her eyes. “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 dragged her up by the jacket again and shoved her against the stall door. The metal latch bit into her back. She groaned.

“Oh, it’s too late, Christy. I’ve given you more than enough chances.”

“Please. . .”

He backhanded her across the face. Pain shot through her nose. She crumpled to her knees, hands flying to the wound. Warm blood dripped into her fingers.

"I don’t know what I ever saw in you. You’re certainly nothing to look at.”

She peered 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 the truth seized her. He’d played with her. Now he would 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?

Vince kicked her in the thigh. “Get up.”

Christy struggled to rise in a slow, defeated way, but the second she gathered her feet underneath herself, she lunged for the door, and the shovel. Grasping the handle with both hands, she willed her eyes to focus on Vince, and swung it at his head.The back of the shovel smacked Vince with a revolting thud. He gasped and staggered sideways, momentarily stunned. The rope slipped from his hands.

Christy froze, shocked she’d actually wounded him. What was she doing? She had to get of here! Move!

Christy ran out of the barn, blood dripping and her head spinning. Into the yard, past the pickups. The house! Get to the house! Lock the door. Maybe she could grab a gun before Vince could break in.

And then she spotted the most beautiful creature in the entire world, Spirit, a snowy apparition posed in the middle of the yard, waiting for her. For a split second she wavered. Should she race for the house or gamble on mounting the gelding in her woozy state?

Vince forced her choice. He burst from the barn doorway, his eyes ablaze. She could not reach the house.

Adrenaline propelled her to Spirit, and she frantically gathered the reins, struggling to get her foot in the stirrup.

She threw a look backward. Vince streaked toward her.

Clutching Spirit’s mane, she summoned all her strength, and launched herself upon his back.

Did I miss anything? Do you agree with what I did? Comment away.

As for next week—you think we’ve worked hard so far? We’ve only just begun. On Monday we tackle tightness of writing and sentence rhythm. These are two concepts I can’t separate in editing, because one directly affects the other. It’ll be a slow edit, with thorough explanation of the concepts first. I promise you—if you learn these two concepts well, it will utterly change your writing. So come back Monday with your seatbelt on.

Happy weekend, BGs.

Read Part 7


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't use the word "plead" (spelled pled here). It's one of those words, though correct, just reads funny. The other thing that jumped out at me is "struggled againts the dizziness." I'd go for something stronger--"fought to stay conscious" maybe.

Anonymous said...

Brandilyn, you handled Vince dropping the rope far better than I did.

I think you did forget one thing: Christy never dropped the shovel. Trying to get on Spirit with the shovel still in her hands is going to be a challenge.

C.J. Darlington said...

Good catch, Wayne. But I wonder if I was reading the scene in a book if I would just assume that the she dropped the shovel.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

I have to say I think Wayne's right. Shovel needs to be dropped. Sigh. These A/Rs are buggers, aren't they?

Stuart said...

I guess that shows one of the things that can be frustrating about editing. No matter how many times you go over something, you can always find something to pick at like a scab.

Looking forward to Monday. I've heard you talk about sentence rhythm before, but that is something that seems a bit foreign to me. Can't wait to see your full description.

Lynette Sowell said...

I appreciate what you said about suggestions ending up in the "suggester's" voice. This is where discernment comes in as far as what's a good turn of phrase and what doesn't work. It's like cooking. Sometimes you don't use the measuring cups but go by taste instead. And we can definitely learn from others' techniques and make them our own.

I'd love to hear more in the future about A/R sequences in conversations. That's what I'm struggling with at the moment. Happy Friday!

Anonymous said...


I'm learning a bunch. I didn't catch any of this stuff. I think now, that the rope didn't need to be dropped--it needed to be dropped they way it was before because Vince was grasping his face. Since, in the re-write he never grasped his face we didn't care if the rope was dropped or not. But the shovel--that would need to be dropped this time, I think.

And this is one of the biggest problems I have with editing. I change things and often ruin my transitions and mess up the flow of the work.

Arghh! It's so much work.

But so much fun.


C.J. Darlington said...

Love the new color sequence. Gray works much better for the background. See you all on Monday!