Tag Archives: editing

Writing prompt with edit: preparing for a long trip

Time: 7 minutes. I then set it aside for about 30 minutes, and then edited the piece for ten minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“preparing for a long trip”

The first run: 7 minutes.

Dale looked at the empty suitcase. It wasn’t the one that would accompany him on his journey, but it was the same size. That suitcase was in a sterile environment, and everything that would eventually go into it would have to be sterilized as well. He would have to be scrubbed and cleaned up as well. But looking at this empty suitcase, not even the one that he would take, lent an air of finality. Whatever in the world that was his from now on would fit in this small space. Any memory, and hobby, any cherished treasure would go into this space or he would never see it again. This said nothing about all the people that wouldn’t fit into the box.

Lily panted in the doorway. She seemed to sense her master’s discomfort, but feared suitcases and other boxes for reasons Dale still couldn’t fully explain. Lily would be going to his sister. She might send letters with Lily’s picture, but one can’t do much with the picture of a dog. The picture of a dog can’t startle you with its wet cold nose, or rest its rest in your lap when the day was nearly too much. He couldn’t look at her, and he couldn’t look at the suitcase. After a few years, the letters would grow sparser as the separation from Earth grew. If Lily was even alive by then.

He tried to tell himself what an opportunity lie ahead. But it was hard not to feel the weight of all the opportunities closing behind him. Many a master lost a beloved pet. But where he was going, there would never be a Lily ever again. Soft fur brushed against the back of his bare leg. Lily whimpered. It was time to go for a walk, but Dale fancied some deeper sensibility.

The edit: 10 minutes. I tried to eliminate unnecessary text while still preserving Dale’s emotions. I removed scifi-ish stuff that didn’t seem to contribute to that end, regarding the suitcase, and tried to give more time to Lily and Dale, which to me ended up being the best part of my first run.

Dale looked at the empty suitcase. It had an air of finality. This space would encompass his life until this point. Any memory, and hobby, any cherished treasure would go into this space or he would never see it again.

Lily panted in the doorway, unable to come closer due to a fear of suitcases and other boxes that Dale still couldn’t fully explain. Lily would be going to his sister, Eva. Eva might send letters with Lily’s picture, but one can’t do much with the picture of a dog. The picture of a dog can’t startle you with its wet cold nose, or rest its rest in your lap when the day was nearly too much. After a few years, the letters would grow sparser as the separation from Earth grew. If Lily was even alive by then.

Dale could not deny his excitement for his future, the opportunity of a lifetime. But it was hard not to feel the weight of the opportunities closing behind him. Where he was going, there would never be a Lily ever again, never a new puppy, never an old companion. His eyes burned.

Soft fur brushed against the back of his bare leg. Lily whimpered, her eyes uneasily fixed upon the suitcase, but determined to be near him. It was time to go for a walk, but Dale fancied some deeper sensibility. He grabbed two tennis balls. One he put into the suitcase; hopefully the decontamination process wouldn’t destroy the scent of dog drool. The other he kept in his hand as he and Lily walked toward the door.

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Editing

Editing is a word I hate. I’m one of those people that always wants to be on to a new project. Bigger, better, and newer. Realistically, nothing I write is publishable after only the first draft, and this is true for most people.

Perhaps part of my dread of editing is that I’ve read very little advice on how to go about doing it. I try to write what I write as best as I can the first time, but then what? But it’s something I have to learn to do, so I am forcing myself to learn. Here are three of my approaches, and some links to some sights that have more experience than I do.

1. Maybe leave that small error in there on the first draft, if you are debating it. It helps you get through the writing faster the first time. I find it helpful to have a toe-hold of some error you know you want to fix, and then move into the manuscript from there. I sometimes feel the urge to make the first draft as perfect as possible, but I think for me, it’s actually better to leave it rough. This also makes it easier to take a machete to it where needed, since there’s less sense of loss.

2. Leave it the hell alone after the first draft. This is two-part in motivation. One, I love it too much initially, and it guts me to rip it apart immediately. And two, I’m more likely to overlook awkward phrasings or logical leaps if it’s still too fresh in my mind. For both parts, it needs some time to gain some other-ness.

3. Work top to bottom. Does the character change behavior inexplicably? Is there a beginning, middle, and end? Big, basic stuff. Then I think about things like pacing, and then about specific sentences.

Some links that helped me think about my approach to editing:

So happy editing? It’s a miserable process for me, but it makes the fun bits worthwhile. In every worthy endeavor, there are parts that are inevitably less than thrilling, but we keep going. I welcome any suggestions from others, too, since I am learning always.

 

Writing: getting peer review

I mentioned some time ago on this blog that I had submitted a short story to a couple of different publications via Duotrope. Duotrope is a website that aggregates markets for different kinds of writing. The site tracks how often a market accepts submissions, as well as how long they take to tell you yes or no, and how often the feedback is personal. They track a number of other useful stats as well. I am still waiting to hear back about my story. It has been 46 days. This is a long time! I now realize that I thought submission would be a mechanism to edit my stories. I thought I could use the feedback from the editors to then improve the story. But there are better places to seek quicker and more detailed editing.

Recently, my writing group told about peer-reviewed critique websites. They recommended critters.org and youwriteon.com. At these websites, you critique other people’s work in order to gain credits to get your own work critiqued. This way, you can learn about both writing and critiquing. I joined critters a few days ago, and submitted my first critique last night. After another, I will be eligible to submit a manuscript. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and progress on this.