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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Editing Hail Frost



Editing is MUCH harder than the actual writing. But it can be just as fun. I've been busy editing 'Hail Frost' for plot/story/character/sentence structure/detail/summary/passive voice/everything non grammar related. (I like to leave the boring grammar stuff for my dad. :P Although I do try to catch as much as I can of it. I'm just lazy.)

This is the first scene in 'Hail Frost.' Just thought I'd show what I edited to see if y'all have any other suggestions. :)

Here it is originally.  I've bolded the areas that needed fixing.

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Hail thrusts his hands into the crusty dirt. His dark hair was matted to his furrowed brow as he tugged at the stubborn ground. (More description.  How does Hail feel about this and what is the setting?)

“Is this really necessary?” He grunted at a nearby youth, who was standing with his arms crossed. The boy nodded and wiped his eyes. ("Who" is a telling word.  Show don't tell.)

Hail rolled his eyes and glared towards the sun. He threw the dirt on the nearby grave and decidedly wiped his hands on his cloak. “There,” he snapped, “That good enough, your highness?”

The youth glared at him, “You're a jerk.”

Hail sneered at him, “Rime, it was a mule. And we're losing daylight. Come on.” He tossed a saddlebag over his shoulder and began walking down the grassy incline. The grass was silky and smooth under his feet, but Hail couldn't help but wish it were the crunch and chill of snow. The sun was lowering over the sea. The light sapphires of the sky began to turn to rugged rubies hidden beneath a lacy veil. Hail turned and glanced back. Rime was still on top of the hill, moaning like a baby over the newly dug grave. ("Was" indicates passive voice.  It's okay every now and then, but I used it way too much in this paragraph.  I did not like the phrase "newly dug grave" because it seems to imply that it is simply a hole in the ground and is not covered.  That is not what I intended.  Also, I described the setting, but I did not include Hail's reaction to it.  What is Hail thinking?  What made him turn and glance back at Rime?)

Hail stormed back up the hill, “Did you not hear me? We need to go. Now.”

“You didn't even mark it,” Rime remarked dully. (I need to think of a verb or action instead of relying on adverbs)

Hail stifled a curse. He gestured at the ground, “It is a huge mound of dirt in the middle of this once-beautiful meadow. I think it is obvious enough.” (I like the dialogue, but something felt wrong.  I think I have used enough actions beats and should try some thought beats.)

Rime's green eyes snapped through his tears. He turned and began trudging down the hill, never looking at Hail, and never looking at the grave. Hail grimaced to himself and at Rime's retreating back. 'I was so much more mature at his age', he though ruefully, 'the brat can't even lift a sword. I could lift a sword at thirteen.' (I think the thought would come across better if it were in italics.  Usually, I try to avoid putting thoughts in italics, only reserving those for prayers or dream scenes.  However, I want to keep the first person because that will help emphasize the next paragraph, where Hail jerks himself out of his thoughts and the writing returns to the more distant third person.) 

He stopped his thoughts before they could continue on to what he had done with that sword. At thirteen.  (I'd like to find a stronger verb than 'stopped.'  I could do 'erased' or 'squandered' but I think I will try 'buried.'  It's a unique word for the situation, and it is a nod back to the grave Hail just covered.)

Hail sighed, yes, it was better for Rime this way. It was better to be a coward than a warrior. He jogged down the hill to Rime and placed his hand on his shoulder, “I'm sorry, brother.”  (The thought beats are a little awkward here.  I could do something about the passive voice, but I think I will leave them because it is a thought beat.  People think and talk in passive voice all the time.  Anything else might sound unnatural)

Rime flinched and looked away, “No you're not. You're not sorry she's dead.”  (That's more contractions than I usually like to use.  But I think it matches with Rime's young age, and with his anger and sadness so I'll leave it.)

“I admit, she was just an animal to me,” Hail replied, trying to fight back the irritation rising in his throat, “But I am sorry for you.”  (I see that Hail is 'trying' to fight back the irritation in his throat.  I don't like to use the word 'trying' with Hail.  It makes him seem a weaker character than I imagined him.  Also, I want to add another sentence after the action beat because I want the pause between his dialogue to seem longer.  I also want to evoke more of Hail's emotions without using a thought beat.)

“Yeah, you're sorry I'm not brave, strong, incredible you,” Rime flung at him, pulling out of Hail's grasp.  ('Flung at him' could work.  But I think I could shorten the action/dialogue beat to make it seem faster.)

“Believe me, I'm not sorry for that at all. You have no idea the price I had to pay to become...”

“You? To become you?” Rime replied, he turned and glared up at his brother, “You betrayed the Leverage. You were a drunk. You have done countless sins in your life. You even betrayed Elethor. And what price have you paid? You survive while others die in your place. Ember's in love with you. Even God has forgiven you.” Rime shook his head with disgust, “And you have not changed. You don't care when death happens. You don't even pretend to be upset! Instead you become angry with me because I am apparently not as strong as you.”  ('Turned' is a rather weak word.  I could erase it or change it to something else.  However, I like the action of Rime spinning around to confront Hail where he formerly had his back to him.  Maybe I should add some description to two paragraphs above this one to show that he has his back to Hail.  'With disgust' is jumping out of my POV.  I'm writing in third person limited, through Hail's point of view.  Hail doesn't know Rime shook his head 'with disgust.'  I should change it to stronger action.  'I am apparently not as strong as you' is really awkward exposition.  'Apparently' hints way too much that perhaps Rime is the stronger of the two, a point I make later in the book.  I need to make it sound more natural.)

Hail stared at him for a few moments, his face void of emotion. He turned and stared over the sea again. Jagged and broken rocks stuck out like thorns in the water near the cliff. They were a more welcome sight than his brother. Hail pushed forward, “Come on,” he mumbled over his shoulder, “We are losing daylight.”  (Apparently, I have an aversion to thought beats.  I want to get what Hail is thinking after such an accusation!  Why doesn't he deny it?  Why does he not affirm it if it is true?  Why doesn't he apologize again, or fight, or anything???  Plus, I revert to summary when I say 'They were a more welcome sight than his brother.')

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Here is the edited version.

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Hail thrusts his hands into the crusty dirt. His dark hair matted to his furrowed brow as he tugged at the stubborn ground. Sweat dribbled down his forehead as he hastily glanced towards the quickly setting sun. He returned to the dirt with renewed vigor, swearing softly to himself.

“Is this really necessary?” He grunted, loud enough for the youth behind him to understand. The boy nodded and wiped his eyes.

Hail rolled his eyes and glared towards the sun. He threw the dirt on the nearby grave and decidedly wiped his hands on his cloak. “There,” he snapped, “That good enough, your highness?”

The youth glared at him, “You're a jerk.”

Hail sneered, “Rime, it was a mule. And we're losing daylight. Come on.” He tossed a saddlebag over his shoulder and began walking down the grassy incline. The grass was silky and smooth under his feet, but Hail couldn't help but wish it were the crunch and chill of snow. The sun lowered softly over the sea. The light sapphires of the sky began to turn to rugged rubies hidden beneath a lacy veil. Two shockingly red streaks stretched over the horizon like angry flames. Hail closed his eyes briefly, refusing to think of anything, or anyone, remotely related to fire. Hail slowly opened his eyes, turning to glance back at his brother. Rime still stood atop the hill, moaning like a baby over the freshly covered grave.

Hail stormed back up the hill, “Did you not hear me? We need to go. Now.”

“You didn't even mark it,” Rime remarked, casting nary a glance at Hail.

Hail stifled a curse. Why was he so sentimental? He gestured at the ground, “It is a huge mound of dirt in the middle of this once-beautiful meadow. I think it is obvious enough.”

Rime's green eyes snapped through his tears. He turned and began trudging down the hill, never looking at Hail, and never looking at the grave. Hail grimaced to himself and at Rime's retreating back. I was so much more mature at his age, he thought ruefully, the brat can't even lift a sword. I could lift a sword at thirteen.

He buried his thoughts before they could continue on to what he had done with that sword. At thirteen.

Yes, it was better for Rime this way. It was better to be a coward than a warrior. Hail jogged down the hill to Rime and placed his hand on his shoulder, “I'm sorry, brother.”

Rime flinched and looked away, “No you're not. You're not sorry she's dead.”

“I admit, she was just an animal to me,” Hail replied, fighting back the irritation rising in his throat. He forced his gaze to remain on Rime instead of seeking comfort in the flashing scarlet of the sky. “But I am sorry for you.”

“Yeah, you're sorry I'm not brave, strong, incredible you,” Rime jerked out of Hail's grasp.  He stared at the ground, kicking at several pebbles to send them skittering over the cliffs.

“Believe me, I'm not sorry for that at all. You have no idea the price I had to pay to become...”

“You? To become you?” Rime replied. He jerked towards his brother, flinging his unruly blond hair over one eye. “You betrayed the Leverage. You were a drunk. You have done countless sins in your life. You even betrayed Elethor. And what price have you paid? You survive while others die in your place. Ember's in love with you. Even God has forgiven you.” Rime shook his head, setting his back to Hail and scowling at the sinking sun. He whispered, “And you have not changed. You don't care when death happens. You don't even pretend to be upset! Instead you become angry with me because you think I am not as strong as you.”

Hail stared at him for a few moments, his face void of emotion. What was he supposed to say to that? It was true enough. But still...

He turned and stared over the sea again. The red shone above the water, striking harsh reflections across the liquid mirror of the ocean. Jagged and sharp rocks sliced out of the water near the cliffs, like scratches on a looking glass.  Hail pushed forward, stepping past Rime. “Come on,” he mumbled over his shoulder, “We are losing daylight.”

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Now, I'm no expert on revision.  I've had to read several books and articles just to have a basic understanding of what to look for.  If y'all see anything that you think I should fix, please tell me!  I won't be offended, and I honestly want to learn more about editing.

3 comments:

  1. First off - this was a really interesting post. It was fun to sort of "hear" your thought process as you edited.

    Secondly, I ABSOLUTELY love this line: "The light sapphires of the sky began to turn to rugged rubies hidden beneath a lacy veil."
    It gives me chills.

    Alrighty, down to brass tacks now...

    First sentence, "Hail thrusts his hands..." should be "thrust" - otherwise you're changing tenses.

    Third sentence: he "hastily glances" at the "quickly setting"... that's a lot of things happening "fast" - maybe consider taking one out.


    "The grass was silky and smooth under his feet, but Hail couldn't help but wish it were the crunch and chill of snow. " (Another great sentence... but, and this is personal preference, you use the word "but" twice in quick succession... maybe consider rewording)

    I would also recommend you put some contractions back into your dialogue here and there... people tend to use them as they speak... and it can be awkward to read dialogue that has a paucity of normal contractions.

    That's all I've got (unless you want a quick lesson on punctuation around dialogue!!!). I love this scene... and it makes me very much want to read the book :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you soo much! I'm glad you like the scene, and I am even happier that you have helped me edit! I'm glad you caught the tense mistake. Those are probably the biggest scourges of writing for me. XD

      I'll be sure to edit everything you mentioned! Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts on it. And hey, I'll take lessons on anything, even punctuation. So if you want to give me a lesson, I'm ready for it!

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    2. Sorry, I missed this. You're welcome :)

      The only thing I was going to mention was that when the information before the dialogue is not a direct introduction to the dialogue you put a period.

      For example: Rime flinched and looked away, “No you're not. You're not sorry she's dead.”
      Should be: Rime flinched and looked away. "No, you're not. You're not sorry she's dead."

      If it read: Rime flinched and looked away, mumbling, "No, you're not. You're not sorry she's dead." Then the comma would be appropriate. Does that make sense? In other words, "flinching and looking away" does not directly lead into his words.

      The only reason I notice is because it was pointed out to me during editing of King's Warrior that I make this exact same mistake ALL. THE. TIME. so I've been hyper alert to it lately!

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