My WIP’s Fourth Revision
What Did I Learn?
Hooray for anyone who made it all the way through these endless editing steps. Along the way we talked about edits of the verb BE, one with edits to filters, another editing adverbs, still another editing pronouns, not to mention repetition, plus listening.
But…as long as it took to read, it took even longer to do it.
How long? Over two months, chipping away at it day after day.
Stephen King once wrote about taking three months to come up with a draft and nine months to get it ready to send to editors. I rolled my eyes…at the time. Not anymore.
What Did I Do?
In my WIP, just as in this little scene, I went through it, over and over. I didn’t try to fix everything at once, because it would have overwhelmed me. And I’m afraid I would have started to wander, not sticking to fixing things the same way. So, I started out with the verb BE, then went on to filters, non-LY adverbs, common words, pronouns, repetition, and finally listening.
It took me a long, long time to go through my story, letting water drip on the stone, slowly wearing away what I didn’t need so I could finally see the story that has waited so long to come out. Did it change words? Lots of them. Did it change my story? No.
What I Tried To Do
My total scene length didn’t change much, actually growing by six words. But the composition changed, with fewer BE’s, filters, adverbs, repetition, and pronouns. And, it reads better.
Scene = 402 (+6) words. TO BE’S = 2 (-7); FILTERS = 1 (-10); NON -LY ADVERBS = 13 (-10); COMMON WORDS = 125 (-37); PRONOUNS = 49 (-17); SCORING = 0.48 (+.10).
How It Looked
|Without seeming, Corston steered Running Deer into an alcove, off the main hallway. Nodding to Bright Star and Vitona, he turned his back, comfortable in the knowledge none would dare interrupt him. Nor could he overheard.||Without seeming, Corston steered Running Deer into an alcove off the main hallway. Nodding to her ladies-in-waiting, Bright Star and Vitona, he turned away, comfortable none would dare interrupt
|We linked Running Deer to her ladies-in-waiting. And we shifted from interrupts to fears of eavesdropping, establishing a bit of the mood at Court.|
|He looked down on the source of his troubles. Running Deer stood half a foot shorter than his 5’ 9”. When she looked up at him, he remembered how different she was, with her darker skin and glossy black hair. She was, every inch, the Lasha Princess, called by some, the Lasha Witch. Heavy with the Count’s child, her beauty was still striking. And he was no more immune to her charm than other men.||He regarded the cause of his troubles. Running Deer stood a half
|This paragraph better focuses on her appearance and relation to those around her in this foreign land. She looks different than those around her, is pregnant, and is a polarizing figure, with some adoring her while others hate her.|
|“You’re looking a beautiful as ever, dear child. But, I would have thought my sister, Ellana, would have you bricked up, as it were, in your confinement.” He chuckled. “What is so important that you must be out?”||“You’re looking as beautiful as ever, dear child, but I’m rather astonished my sister, Ellana, would let you roam free without bricking you in, or whatever mysteries they conjure up in confinement,” he said. “What is so important you risk her displeasure.”|
|In this paragraph we see Corston’s unease at Running Deer defying, however, mildly, her mother-in-law. We also sense Corston’s unease about the mysteries of child-birth.|
|She looked down at her huge belly and made a face. “I wish this would be over. The time creeps by.” She clutched at that smooth agate with its swirls of green and blue. “Ebert.”||“Time moves ever slowly and I wish my son to come out.” After patting her huge belly she made
|We getting a better sense of her weariness at being so pregnant, then we learn what brings her to speak with Corston.
|“Yes. Ebert.” Corston tapped the floor with his cane. “You did well, girl, to break off with him. I’m delighted you listened to—”||“Yes. Ebert.” He tapped his cane on the floor. “You did well, girl, to break with him. I’m delighted you went ahead and
|We get a straighter tapping on the floor. We also having Corston now approving of her action and not just listening to him.|
|“Make him stop.” She clutched at his sleeves. “He will listen to you, Uncle. I know he hurts. I, too. Make him stop.” She took a deep breath, eyes flashing. “Please?”||“Make him stop.” She clutched at his sleeves. “Make him listen, Uncle. I grieve for his hurt which echoes in my heart, but all must end.” Eyes glistening, she took a deep breath. “Please?”|
|This paragraph changes quite a bit. Now we get sharing grief over the ended relationship and her plea for help and not a demand.|
|Corston turned his arms, taking her hands in his. “Yes. Well, I suppose it’s time.” He knew it had been over a month, and he had wondered when Ebert would come to his senses. “I will, dear child.” He leaned and kissed her forehead.
|Not much of this paragraph remains. In the second version, Corston considers both halves of the couple and not just his nephew, and shows tenderness toward her.|
|Then he motioned for Vitona and Bright Star. They steered their Lady down the hall. Even now, the girl carried herself with remarkable grace, almost no waddle. People smiled as she approached. She did that to people. Her soft words, in that delightful accent, won them over. Some ladies had even begun to mix Lasha dress into their Grand Hara styles.||He kissed her forehead, then motioned for Vitona and Bright Star to shepherd their charge through swarming courtiers in the hallway. Throughout, the girl negotiated the hazards with remarkable grace, without
|In the second version we get a more graphic description of Court, and Corston’s admiration for her physique, helping us understand that his earlier words about her continued beauty were not just empty platitudes. Not only that, we get a hint at how she continues to attract followers.|
|Worry tugged at him. Until she bore a son, the Confederation was a phrase, not a fact. The heir would knit the two Peoples together. But, Ebert threatened to upend that. Corston decided he must help Ebert. That his nephew loved the girl was beyond question. But that must stop. Now.
||Worry tugged at him. Until she bore a son, the Confederation amounted to little more than words with no physical reality. Given a chance, the heir might weave the two Peoples into whole cloth. But Ebert threatened to upend everything pursuing
|And our final summation paragraph is almost unrecognizable in words, although the tone remains the same. We see her son’s importance, and the danger Ebert’s obsession with Running Deer creates for the Duchy.|
I have no idea at the moment. I expect I will have things to say about Beta Reading.