Schemes and Scenes – Part Seven

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Schemes and Scenes – Part Seven

This is the seventh article in an occasional series on scene development.  Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, Chapter Seven, focuses on Internal Monolog, with three exercises. Read the sixth article.

crossed 1Edit the following exchanges.

A.

Original:

“Excuse me, miss, but I’m giving a seminar over in room 206 in a few minutes, and I need an overhead projector.”  The man at the door of the audiovisual room was actually wearing a tweet jacket with leather patches at the elbows.  All he needs is a pipe, Kimberley thought.

“Okay, if you want an overhead or something like that–a movie projector or slides or what-ever–you have to fill out a form ahead of time,” she said briskly.  “Then we can, like, line everything up and—“

“I know.  I sent in the form three weeks ago.”

Okay, she thought, that would have been when Ed was still in charge of AV.  And he would have taken care of this, wouldn’t he?  I mean, Ed was a little sloppy and all—I’m going to have to clean up the office when I get a chance—but he basically got things done.

“You’ve been up to the seminar room?” she said.

“Yes,” he replied, “and the projector wasn’t there.”

Oh, God, she thought.  Great.  I’ve only been in charge for fifteen minutes and already there’s a major screw up.  “Okay, do you have your, wattya call it, your course form?”

He snapped his briefcase open, reaching into it, and pulled out the familiar green card.  “Right here.”

Yeah.  There is was, right on the form where it was supposed to be.  “Give me a minute.”

She ducked into the office and dug out the clipboard with all the requisitions on it.  After five minutes, he got tired of waiting and stuck his head in the office.

“Miss?  I don’t want to be late,” he said irritably.

“All right, mister.”  Jeez, she thought, he could at least give her a little time.  “What’s the course number?”

“A3205.”

She went through the forms again.  Definitely no A3205 there.  “What’s the room number?”

As I believe I just told you, it’s 206.  I don’t suppose you could just give me a projector now, could you?  I’d be happy to carry it over myself.”

“Nope, we don’t have any to spare.  If you want one, we have to figure out where yours went.”  She riffled through the forms one more time.  Suddenly, she found it.  “Okay, here’s the problem.  I have room 206 listed as A9631.  ‘Making Fresh Baby Food at Home.’  The projector should be up there.”

“Miss, the projector’s not there,” he said dryly.  “That’s why I’m here.”

Jeez, she wondered what it would take to please this guy.  “You’re sure it’s not there?  Did you check the closet.?”

“Room 206 doesn’t have a closet.”

“It most certainly does.  It’s the big seminar room off the cafeteria, right?”

“No, it’s the smallish room near the elevator?  How long have you worked here?”

“Long enough to know the building.”  So there, she thought.  “Did you come across the courtyard to get here?”

“Um, yes.  I did.”

Ha, she had him.  “Okay, we don’t handle that wing of the building.  You want the AV room for the Peebles annex; it’s down by the bursar’s office.”

“Oh, I see.”  He looked at his watch.  “Well, thank you.”

“Hey, no sweat.  We’re here to help.”

My Thoughts

  • Some of the dialog tags are improperly use.
  • Some of the inner dialog doesn’t ring true.  Some are slow the action down without need, or make Kimberly be too judgmental, and italics.
  • Some passages have unnecessary detail.

My Edits

“Excuse me, miss, but I’m giving a seminar over in room 206 in a few minutes, and I need an overhead projector.”

The man at the door of the audiovisual room wore a tweet jacket with leather patches at the elbows. All he needed was a pipe.

“Okay,” Kimberley said, “if you want an overhead or something like a movie projector, you have to fill out a form ahead of time. Then, we can line something up and—“

“I know.  I sent in the form three weeks ago.”

Ed was still in charge, then. He was a little sloppy and all, but he basically got things done.  She realized she needed to clean the office up when she got a chance.

“You’ve been up in the seminar room?”

“Yes. The projector wasn’t there.”

Great. I’ve been in charge for fifteen minutes and there’s already a major screw up.  “So, do you have your…your course form?”

He snapped open his briefcase and pulled out the familiar green card. “Right here.”

“Give me a minute,” she said. She ducked into the office and dug out the clipboard.with all the requisitions on it.

After five minutes, he stuck his head in the office. “Miss? I don’t want to be late.”..

Jeez, , he could at least give her a little time. “What’s the course number.”

“A3205.”

She saw no A3205. “What’s the room number?”

“As I told you, it’s 206. Could I just have a projector? I’d be happy to carry it over myself..”

“Nope.  We don’t have any spares. So, let’s figure out where yours went.” She riffled through the forms one more time. Then she saw it. “Okay, here’s the problem. I have room 206 listed as A9631, not A3205. The projector should already be up there.”

“But it’s not.”

“Did you check the closet?”

“Room 206 doesn’t have a closet.”

“It most certainly doOm near the elevators. How long have you worked here?”

“Long enough to know the building.  Did you come across the courtyard to get here?”

“Um, yes.”

“Of course.  Now I understand..  We don’t handle the Peebles annex. Their AV is down by the bursar’s office.”

“Oh, I see.” He looked at his watch. “Well, thank you.”

“No sweat. We’re here to serve.”

 B.

Original

There had been no rain for two weeks.  Last year’s dried leaves crackled underfoot as Winston made his morning trek down Spruce Corner Road to the mailbox at the intersection.  Then, just before he stepped out of the woodland and into the open land near Dymond’s farm, he sniffed.  Wood smoke.

Brush fire?  It was too warm for anyone to be using a stove.  Or had the neighbors started a brush burn without a permit again.

Thoughts

  • The italicized section should can be combined with the first paragraph, and reformatted.
  • Move who is doing this up, closer to the front, so the reader knows who is walking.
  • The description seems stilted.

My Edits

Winston made his morning trek to the mailbox.  With each step, last year’s dried leaves crackled.  He remembered it hadn’t rained for two weeks.  Down near Dymond’s farm, as he stepped into the open, he smelled wood smoke. His first thought was that it was a brush fire because it was too warm to use a stove. Then he remembered the neighbors.  Maybe they had started a brush burn without a permit again.

(C1)

Original

“You see,” Smiley said, “our obsession with virtue won’t go away. It’s because self-interest is so limiting. So is expediency.” He paused again, still deep inside his own thoughts. “All I’m really saying, I suppose, is that if the temptation to humanity does assail you now and then, I hope you won’t take it as a weakness in yourselves, but give it a fair hearing.”  The cufflinks I thought, in a flash of inspiration.  George is remembering the old man.

My Thoughts

  • I’m not sure limiting needs italics.
  • There are two people in this paragraph, and they should be separated out.
  • If George Smiley is not the POV, how can we know he is deep inside his own thoughts?

My Edits

 “You see,” Smiley said, “our obsession with virtue won’t go away. It’s because self-interest is so limiting. So is expediency.” He paused again, finger pressed to his lip. “All I’m really saying, I suppose, is that if the temptation to humanity does assail you now and then, I hope you won’t take it as a weakness in yourselves, but give it a fair hearing.”

The cufflinks. George is remembering the old man.

(C2)

Original

“Did you go up there? When you were young?”

“I went to dances,” the doctor said. “I specialized in getting Cokes for people. I was extremely good at getting Cokes passed around.”  He helped her into a chair. “Now, then, what can I do for you?”

Amanda sat her pocketbook on the floor and told him what she had come for.

Jesus Christ, he thought, wondering how many years he would have to practice medicine before he learned never to be surprised by anything.

My Thoughts

  • One of the paragraphs should be split in two.
  • The internal thought is wordy and has a tag that isn’t needed.

My Edits

“Did you go up there? When you were young?”

“I went to dances,” the doctor said. “I specialized in getting Cokes for people. I was extremely good at getting Cokes passed around.”

He helped her into a chair. “Now, then, what can I do for you?”

Amanda put her pocketbook down and told him what she had come for.

Jesus Christ.  How many years would he have to practice medicine before he learned not to be surprised.

(C3)

Dalgleish thought, This isn’t my case and I can’t stop him by force. But at least he could ensure that the direct path to the body lay undisturbed. Without another word he led the way and Mair followed. Why this insistence, he wondered, on seeing the body? To satisfy himself that she was, in fact, dead, the scientists’ need to verify and confirm? Or was he trying to exorcise a horror he knew could be more terrible in imagination than in reality? Or was there, perhaps, a deeper compulsion, the need to pay her the tribute of standing over her body in the quietness and loneliness of the night before the police arrived with all the official paraphernalia of a murder investigation to violate forever the intimacies the had shared?

My Thoughts

  • Inner dialog tags that are not needed.
  • I disagreed with the suggested edits, seeing a prequel followed by action, and broke the paragraph into two pieces.  I decided to break it again as he walked, continuing his inner monologue.

My Edits

Dalgleish regarded Mair. This wasn’t his case and he couldn’t stop Mair by force. But at least he could ensure that the direct path to the body lay undisturbed.

Without another word he led, and Mair followed.

Why this insistence on seeing the body? To satisfy himself that she was, in fact, dead, the scientists’ need to verify and confirm? Or was he trying to exorcise a horror he knew could be more terrible in imagination than in reality? Or was there, perhaps, a deeper compulsion, the need to pay her the tribute of standing over her body in the quietness and loneliness of the night before the police arrived with all the official paraphernalia of a murder investigation to violate forever the intimacies the had shared?

.


Spotting the old fashioned inner monolog tags are easy to spot, and easy to fix.  The type and wording of the thoughts need to be just as consistent with the character as the external words and actions.  When they comment on action, I need to take care to keep the action from bogging down.

Editing the work of established authors made me realize my writer’s voice is different than theirs.  In spite of admiring Robert Jordan’s writing style, long, flowing descriptions are not appropriate for all genres and all works.  I am leaning more and more toward Hemingway’s shorter sentences and more clipped style.  So, when it came to editing the C section, it wasn’t as hard as it once was.  It is just as well I do not revisit the Fitzgerald piece.

 

 Read Part Eight

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