Schemes and Scenes – Part Ten

Standard

Schemes and Scenes – Part Ten

This is the tenth article in an occasional series on scene development.  Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, Chapter Ten, focuses on repetition, with two exercises. Read the ninth article.

crossed 1Edit the following exchanges.

A.

Original:

“Come on in, don’t be bashful.”

It wasn’t exactly bashfulness that was keeping me in the hallway. This was my first visit to a bachelor’s apartment, and I was shocked at how much it lived up to it’s reputation. It wasn’t just the velvet painting of Elvis on the wall above the blue velvet couch, or the orange shag rug, or the Formica coffee table, or the wall unit that looked like it was made of genuine simulated plastic wood. It was the sense that the place had been lived in, and lived in hard.

There were nicks in the top of the coffee table that looked as if they might have been caused by tap shoes. There was a small collection of cigarette burns on one arm of the dark brown vinyl recliner in front of the TV.  The TV antenna was a bent coat hanger with an undershirt hanging from it. Presumably a dirty undershirt — I didn’t want to get close enough to check. Also, there were one or two unidentified stains on the ceiling.

“Like it,” he said. “I spent all day yesterday cleaning it up, just for you.”

Thoughts:

  • As I approached this, I was unsure how much latitude I had to edit the writing.  It would have been easy to tear it apart and start over.
  • I saw some of the obvious things, like velvet used twice, and over description of the recliner.  The table came up twice, and the TV and antenna bled from one sentence to the other, while that disgusting tshirt just went on and on.
  • In my first revision, not shown, I cut far more out of the passage above than the book did.  This points to a struggle I am having, which is how much to cut.  After doing my own edits, I read the solution manual.  Then I went back and rewrote.

Revisions:

“Come on in, don’t be bashful.”

It wasn’t exactly bashfulness that was keeping me in the hallway. This was my first visit to a bachelor’s apartment, and it lived up to its reputation.

It wasn’t just the velvet painting of Elvis above the blue satin couch, or the orange shag rug, , or even the wall unit made of genuine simulated plastic wood. Then there was the nicked coffee table, brown recliner with cigarette burns, and a bent coat hanger serving as an antenna, had an undershirt hanging from it. And what had caused those unidentified stains on the ceiling.

“Like it,” he said. “I spent all day yesterday cleaning it up, just for you.”

B.

Original:

Clancy is a referral from Marilyn Reinhold via Donald Grayson via Rose Summer. Frankly, I’m ashamed of my colleagues, passing the man around that way, not that I don’t understand it. It’s just that Clancy is so damned boring. I guess my colleagues felt there are so many interesting people in this city who get into therapy — homosexual television producers, actresses sleeping their way to the top, hot-shot agency heads, philandering Wall Street dynamos — that it’s not necessary to suffer through a patient like Clancy. It is tempting to turn him away. I’ve thought about it myself. Clancy’s an accountant for a small rock salt distributor in Queens. He’s a pale and timid man with a vapid smile and a nasal, rambling speaking style, so slow you could fall asleep before he gets the next word out. Particularly annoying is his undying allegiance to his employer of ten years who pays him at the end of that loyal service the great sum of $42,000 per year, and who expects overtime without pay on a consistent basis. Clancy’s really a very nice man, but his problems are small, small, and boring.

The therapists, Clancy the accountant, Clancy the person.

Thoughts:

  • I looked at this for a long time, wondering what to do with it.  If the author was sketching boring, she succeeded.
  • I trimmed some stuff, but forgot to look for internal organization.  If I had focused on breaking this apart, I would have seen how to fix it.
  • So, I broke the therapists away from Clancy with a separate paragraph, which the book did not do.
  • And I combined the thoughts on Clancy in his work environment, and then Clancy on the couch.
  • I did nothing to spice up the therapist paragraph until I read the book solution.

Revisions:

Clancy is a referral from Marilyn Reinhold via Donald Grayson via Rose Summer. Frankly, it’s embarrassing how they passed the poor man around. It’s just that Clancy is not very interesting compared to the usual cases they get — gay television producers, nympho actresses, bipolar agency heads, Wall Street workaholics.

I’ve thought about turning him away myself. Clancy’s an accountant for a small rock salt distributor in Queens. who makes the great sum of $42,000, for which he is expected to work a lot of unpaid overtime. He’s a timid man with a nasal voice, who rambles when he speaks. You could fall asleep before he can complete a thought. Clancy’s really a very nice man, but his problems are small and boring.


This section was very difficult.  In fact, I failed.  Like Clancy, I was too timid.

What I took away from this was collecting and organizing thoughts.  In the first example, it took me a while to separate her from the apartment, effectively leaving her in the doorway, looking in.  Getting rid of obvious over descriptions helped narrow it down.  As I said above, I would have cut it further, and lost the setting.

The second exercise was even worse.  It was a rambling mess, and I did not know how much latitude I had to change it.  How do I know when I’m looking at F. Scott Fitzgerald or a mess?  The passage certainly felt wrong.  And it was hard to put my finger on it.  Only when I saw the distinct groupings did I get a hint of what to do.

I am so far from becoming a writer.  I just don’t get how to write.  And the critiques of Sacrifice of Scepters on another site proved it, and I want to cry.


 

 

.

Advertisements

One thought on “Schemes and Scenes – Part Ten

  1. Pingback: Schemes and Scenes – Part Nine | Simply Silent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s