Thursday, October 17, 2013

Guest Story Editing Part 1 Explanation

A long, long time ago I took a story my cousin (her name is Maren Shenal) had written for her seventh grade English class and posted it one segment at a time on my blog along with revised versions of the segments.  I want to talk about editing more often on my blog, as for the past nineteen months I've focused mostly on drafting.  My next few writing posts are going to explain why I changed the things that I did when I revised my guest story (and perhaps refer to some things I would have done differently had I been writing those posts "today").

I will start with Part 1, which can be found here.  It's best that you follow along.  (If anyone is even reading this...)

The first sentence in the original felt too abrupt and showed too much for my taste.  Its implied style seemed a little too first grade for the rest of the story.  I turned that sentence into five.  The final two sentences could have been done better, for sure.  I now prefer something like, "Don't get me wrong, they had their fair share of hardships, but they were often small and almost always funny, and the case of Fluffy and Wiggles it was both."  "But" in the preceding sentence would therefore be changed to "albeit."

I retained the next sentence more-or-less.  It felt like the story needed some more description to balance out the opening dialogue, so I added some.  My revision was a little shaky.  I would have ended better with, "...yet his sharp teeth broke the pleasant image.  Fluffy caught a glimpse of his coat of dense purple fur on the very brink of squealing.  She held back a laugh."

The third sentence needed the same treatment as the second and some cutting.  I told more than I should have.  I could have shown with just a few extra words.  "Wiggles stared at Fluffy's long, horse-like body, his eyes shifting only to gaze upon the large black horn emerging from her skull.  In the corner of his view, Fluffy's hair sparkled in every hue of a rainbow.  The knot in Wiggles' stomach softened.  He smiled."  That's much better, in my opinion.  I took the purpose of the nickname and amplified it by changing it to description through the opposite character's eyes.

Sentence four was fine after a trim and a dialogue tag (although the tag could have been omitted).

I decided to maintain the narrative nature of the final sentence in Part 1 and only change the wording.  It does well enough as a transition in this genre.

Is there anything else anyone thinks should be changed?  General comments?


  1. I actually have a ridiculous amount of fun editing. I mean yes it can be stressful and you wonder if you're making all the right decisions or worry that you've missed something important that needed to be fixed and all that... but there is something really magical to me about watching a story transform from its first-draft state into something better.

    1. For a lot of my flash the editing is minimal, as typically I take the time to have a clean first draft. When it comes to longer manuscripts, revision is fun when you're strengthening plot, setting, and characters, as well as sentences. I've had two short stories go through about half a dozen rounds of editing before they felt like they couldn't get any better.