Friday, September 30, 2005

Description/Setting--Part II


Happy Friday, BGs.

I have been traveling all day--going to the Zondervan novelists' retreat. Missed my connection in Chicago, got stuck there for hours. Now finally at the hotel, only to find they don't have wireless, so I'm in their business center, where there's only two computers, and I shouldn't take up one for long. So I'll have to keep this short for tonight, and we can pick up on this topic on Monday.

By the way, thanks to all of you who read my post over at the Charis Connection. Maybe they won't kick me off of there quite so soon with y'all's support. Part II is up today.

I'm going to deal with one of the scenes posted from yesterday. I sort of eenie, meenie, and got the middle one. My suggestions for this scene are merely those of cutting. Sometimes we can say just as much with fewer words. I'm going to do this pretty quickly, but off the top of my head, here are my suggestions. Please let me know what you think, and what suggestions you might have for the author. I'll run the original first, then my version with some tightening.
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Michael hadn’t expected to see her tonight. In fact, he hadn’t planned on ever seeing her again. Yet there she was in a designer wedding gown, the sequins of her fitted bodice glistening in the moonlight. His heart began to race. Perspiration moistened his palms. She sauntered toward him, her layered silk dress blowing in the breeze. He wanted to turn and run, but his body froze in rebellion. Closing his eyes, he hoped she would disappear, that she was a figment of his imagination, the result of too many late nights. But when he opened them, Leila was still there standing before him like a dream ─ a bad dream.

The warm summer breeze swept through Central Park where nosy spectators gathered to watch the spectacle. Trying to calm his nerves, he inhaled through his nose and caught a whiff of Middle Eastern cuisine mixed with Leila's unmistakable scent. He shivered, remembering the last time he saw her. Michael looked up at the night sky. The full moon shone bright, unlike that night two years earlier. It had been cold and snowing. Michael’s face contorted as he played that evening over in his mind.

Leila came closer, moving back and forth with seductive grace. He zoomed the camera out and captured her entire body. The shutter snapped, echoing in his ears like a ticking time bomb. The entire crew at the photo shoot faded away. Leila puckered her lips as if her kiss was meant only for him. She lifted her dress and revealed the garter that hugged her thigh. He felt the passion stir, the appeal of her body awakening desires he had suppressed for almost two years.

The cabs of New York City’s crowded streets honked their horns with fervor as jaywalking pedestrians tried to cross over to the park. Michael shook his head and tried to rid himself of the memories. Rubbing his sweaty palms on his jeans, he fought to control his rising emotions. The hot and cold thoughts merged inside his head, swirling around raging like a tornado, silencing the noises of Manhattan’s nightlife. Michael felt himself losing control, her presence consuming all of his senses. He focused on her sapphire eyes, her golden hair slicked back off her narrow face accentuated her high cheekbones. There was no denying it, she was still ravishing.
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Michael hadn’t expected to see her again. Yet there she was in a designer wedding gown, sequins on the fitted bodice glistening under the full moon. His heart picked up speed, perspiration moistening his palms. She sauntered toward the camera, her layered silk dress blowing in the breeze. He wanted to run, but his body froze. He closed his eyes, hoping she was a figment of his imagination, the result of too many late nights. But when he opened them, Leila stood before him like a bad dream.

The warm summer breeze swept around the spectators in Central Park. Michael caught a whiff of Middle Eastern cuisine mixed with Leila's unmistakable scent. He shivered, remembering the last time he'd seen her two years ago on that cold and snowy night.

Leila came closer, swaying with seductive grace. He zoomed the camera out and captured her entire body, the snap of the shutter like the tick of a time bomb. Leila puckered her lips at him and lifted her dress, revealing a thigh-hugging garter. Renewed passion surged within him.

Cabs honked at jaywalking pedestrians trying to cross to the park. Michael shook his head, trying to rid himself of his memories. Hot and cold thoughts raged like a tornado in his head, silencing the noises of Manhattan’s nightlife. Leila's presence consumed his senses. He focused on her sapphire eyes, her golden hair slicked back off the high-cheekboned face.
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What I tried to do:

1. Cut extraneous stuff. I think we still have most of the information and feeling left. Some sentences simply weren't needed at all, such as the last sentence about Leila being ravishing. Obviously she's ravishing, so we don't have to be told that.

2. Fixed a few sentence rhythm issues.

3. Brought up to the top the fact that Michael is seeing Leila through a camera. I think we need to understand that up front.

This is a quick, once-through pass, BGs. What do you think? Gina, how about you, seein' as how it's your story?

Oh, btw, responses to two comments from yesterday.. Deb--don't you know I'm out to ruin the world for you? And Stuart--of course Paige gets in the hot tub.


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Read Part 3

5 comments:

Gina Holmes said...

Brandilyn, hope you're enjoying your retreat. I'm jealous. You get to hang around with some of my favorite writers. If you talk to Alton, maybe you could ask him when his book "Gurney ride to Oblivion" is coming out. And Don Brown is super talented, but the ego on that guy, sheesh. ; )

If you ever go into editing for others let me know. You've got a gift. Well, actually several I'm learning. Thanks! BTW, Dead of Night is the best "how to" book on suspense I've ever read. It's the only fiction I'm keeping with my writing reference books. Man, that book was out of this world. I learned so much.

Wayne said...

I think you tightened up some things wonderfully. I suppose making the reader aware of the camera is fine, but I like wondering why Leila is walking towards him. Can you explain why you think it is important to reveal this right away?

Cara Putman said...

I'm in Gina's crit group.

The writing is tighter, and I don't think loses the image Gina was creating. I did notice you use -ing words more liberally, Brandilyn. Must be another "rule" that is made to be broken. :-)

Overall, I think it improves the pacing without losing the detail. I guess the moral is more words doesn't necessarily mean better detail?

Pammer said...

Wow. That was great Brandilyn. I was trying to write yesterday (emphasis on tried, ehem) and missed your post until today. Timely too. I really need it. And I can prove it. Here are the first few lines of the first requested ms(I feel kindof exposed putting it here on the blog of the most awesome suspense writer I know, but here it is. You can see it needs descriptive help.

My Dearest Angel,

I wanted to write you a poem, but 'Roses are red-' seemed too trite. Mere words cannot express what is between us.
So let me say this-
Begun in pain,
Undone by the same.
For you will ever be,
A remnant of me.

All my love,
Your Secret Admirer

Evangeline Dawson stared at the quality paper in her hand as the lines shimmied in and out of her vision.
She looked around the parking lot--all senses perked up. Evie might mistake this letter for one like she had received every week for the past two months, except for one important thing. It wasn't Tuesday. She already got a note this week.
Swallowing hard, she opened the car door to retrieve the box of dress up clothes for the toddler's class. The strong spicy smell of cologne assaulted her nostrils and she shuddered. Mr. Secret Admirer had been in her car.

:0)

Gina, how can you study Dead of Night? I forget that I am supposed to be learning and get caught up in the story....again. :0)

Gina said...

Brandilyn, great edit. Thanks so much for helping me see where I had repetitive words, feelings and unnecessary action. If definitely helped move the scene along and I'm realizing in my other scenes I tend to linger when I need to pick up the pace.

I have a couple of questions. In this scene my intention was to linger just a bit to emphasize the internal struggle Michael has with his addictions, one of them being his physical attraction to Leila. Since this is their first meeting after a tragedy two years prior, I wanted it to stick in the readers mind that their relationship, past and possibly future, is obsessive.

So my question is, was the angst strong enough in the edit? I know I'm too close to the story, but I didn't feel his internal struggle as much. It doesn’t move me in the same way. I'd like to know what you and others think about this.

Also, I have a question about voice. Since I’m still trying to figure out what my voice is, it’s not clear yet if mine is missing from the edit. Could you comment on the difference between tight writing and voice?