Monday, July 22, 2013

Imagine (the) skinny

Rupert's story was drafted and I'm not upset about it. It isn't due until the end of the month, so I think I'll actually try to do a good job and edit it at least half a dozen times, get some folks to look at it, etc. The biggest problem so far is that it is about 90 words too heavy. It doesn't matter how amazing and epic a piece one rights, if it doesn't conform to the rules of whatever competition, it loses. 

In addition to hat, I have identified a first hurdle for the fine tuning. I give you the opening paragraph of the latest draft:

"The footsteps didn’t wake him. They unsettled the wooden planks that made up the dusty flooring, first ones farther away, then ones closer. The wood was aware of the people’s walking before their boots arrived, like they were walking behind their own shadows. When the door opened, they were behind their own shadows. Dark fingers reached across the room. He couldn’t wedge himself any farther into the corner of his cell. The light flashed between the figures’ shoulders. In the dream, Rupert screamed, but really, all he did was start awake."

Now, I mentioned last week that this is an abduction story, or, is at least about a guy who was abducted. I only have 2,000 words to tell the story, too, and the detail and dialog later have soaked up a lot of that, so this first bit has to do a few different things. I want it to set tone as well as lay the groundwork for clues that occur later. What we have here is 3rd person limited perspective, so I can't speak on anything omnisciently, yet I would like the reader to know things that the character is only loosely aware of. In this case, a parallel between where he was abducted to, and where he is in the first scene of the story. And, if possible, I'd like to do all that in fewer words. 

Although, this isn't really how I tackle problems like this. However, I did think it would be interesting to post some Before and After paragraphs. Since sketching is akin to revealing how I go about telling stories, it only made sense that I could also talk about how I go about editing. It may be that that opening paragraphs changes very little, but I feel right now that it's somewhat confusing. At least, it could be much, much sharper. But then, most 2nd drafts are pretty dull. 

So yeah, imagine an unhealthy person. In a week, hopefully I can show you someone in much better sorts.

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