Fiction editing: edit me Thursday # 2

Welcome to another Edit me Thursday post where I'll be editing a page submitted by...well...anyone! To submit a one-page piece of your own writing email me at: bjbstories @ yahoo. com  (You're identity will be kept anonymous!)

Disclaimer: About my editing style...I chip a lot, I tweak a lot, and I analyze everything to the Nth degree. So as with anybody’s edits they’re only suggestions, and they reflect my own writing style. I’ve had many occasions where someone suggests an edit that harmed the story rather than helped it. But hopefully the edits below make good sense.

My Goal:  To maintain the author's story and the authors voice while improving the story's flow, structure, vocabulary, clarity, action (non-passivity), and general readability.

When you (anyone reading this blog) finish looking over the changes I made to the entry below, let me know what you think? Did the edits help, or was it better off untouched? Or did you really like/dislike one particular edit I made? Let me know (and the author know) in a comment!

1) Draft sent to me
2) First edit
3) Suggestions and explanations
4) Clean draft with Brandon's edits

1) Draft sent to me

“She’s in pain—how is this possible?” Adaiyas said.

“I cannot explain it, First Elf—“

“Cannot explain it? You’re the midwife; it’s your job to explain it!”

“Has your wife experienced pain like this before?”

“What are you suggesting, Corina?”

“If I did not know better, I’d suggest labour pains—“

“Elves do not suffer labour pains, Midwife.”

Corina, the midwife, wrung her hands together hopelessly as she stared at the slim elf woman on the birthing mat. No longer clutching to the circular delivery chamber’s birthing pole, her hands now clutched her swollen belly as she screamed, a tormented wail pierced the late afternoon air.

First Elf Adaiyas leapt from his stool and took his wife’s hand in his, distressed by the sight of tears flowing down her bronze cheeks to mingle with sweat dampened blond hair. “Do something, Corina. Please.”

Experienced hands explored Filarna’s swollen belly. “Something is wrong, First Elf. The baby is not head-down but sideways. Your wife is fully dilated and attempting delivery, but as the baby cannot enter the birth canal, the contractions are causing her great pain.”

2) My edits

In this section, I tried to maintain the authors vocabulary choice. I moved phrases/words around, tightened, combined, and generally tried to create a nice blend of action and dialogue.

First half:

2nd half

3) Suggestions and explanations

In this section, I explain some of the major things I did to edit a piece:

The dialogue between Adaiyos and Corina needed tightening. I felt the way somethings were revealed was slow. IE: "Elves do not have labor pains". I also like to get peoples names out on the table quickly, and I don't like it done in dialogue.

-You'll notice that I cut some of the dialogue out of the original sequence. This, in my opinion, definitely helped the flow of the scene.

-the term "First Elf" felt too formal for this setting. And the scene itself felt like it was from the First Elf's POV.
This title can be established at a less intense scene perhaps.

-Also, through the edits I was able to drop the word count from 185 to 138.

4) Clean draft with Brandon's edits:

“She’s in pain!” cried Adaiyas. “How is this possible—Elves do not have labour pains?”

“I cannot explain it,” said Corina without looking at him.

Adaiyas tore his eyes from his wife and glared at the midwife. “It’s your job to explain it!”

Corina wrung her hands together hopelessly as she stared at the slim elf woman on the birthing mat. The woman clutched her swollen belly as she screamed.

Adaiyas leapt from his stool and took his wife’s hand in his. Tears traced down her bronze cheeks as she grimaced. “Do something, Corina. Please.”

Corina explored Filarna’s swollen belly with her hands. “It is the baby’s position..The child is not head-down but sideways. Your wife is fully dilated, but the baby cannot enter the birth canal, the contractions have it pinned. That is what’s causing the pain.”


logankstewart said...

Looks great, and I agree with a lot of it. One thing I would change would be in the opening dialog to use "don't" instead of "do not," unless the writer wants to switch the "It's" to "It is" a few lines later. I think the urgency in the situation would call for quick words, and contractions would fit perfectly.

Great work, to both writer and editor.

Brandon said...

Good points Logan. I agree with you. I'm a big fan of contractions :)
I guess that gets touchy in a lot of the fantasy genre though...since much of it is trying to harken to older english styles.

T. Anne said...

Wow, your version is much cleaner. I hope the author gleans your changes!

Brandon said...

Thanks T. Anne. I'm glad you approve.

Cynde L. Hammond said...

Hi, Brandon!

I'm SO glad that you just "stumbled upon" my blog because now I have found YOURS and it's AMAZING!

I'm now "following" you and would really appreciate a "follow-back", but if you don't, that's OK...I'll just cry. "Waa-aahhhh!" *sniff* *sniff* Did he follow me back? Oh, good...then I can cut the act! (hehehehe!)

Maybe someday, if I can get over my fear of showing other people my work, I'll ask you to "edit me". Do you ever do it in private? (she asks, biting her nails...)

Have a blessed evening.



Cynde's Got The Write Stuff

Brandon said...

Hi Cynde,
Glad you made it to my blog! :)
And don't worry, you can submit a one-page (or less) piece of writing, and your name will be kept anonymous. I have several submissions in the queue, so it's not like anyone will be able to figure out which sub is yours! :)

von said...

The sentence:
“She’s in pain!” cried Adaiyas. “How is this possible—Elves do not have labour pains?”

Ends oddly... ie the question mark. It ends up putting the part of the sentence that is not a question ('Elves do not have labor pains') under the geas of the question mark, while leaving the part that IS a question 'how is this possible' hanging before a dash.

Reversing the two might work: "But Elves do not have labor pains -- How is this possible?"

But the 'possible' word is awkward anyway; since 'do not have' is not a statement regarding possiblity but past fact.

I personally like the fact that the dialoge showed more tension originally.
"She is in pain"
Suggestion: labor pains
Dismissed: Elves don't have labor pains.
Implication: So think of something else or tell me why my wife is the first.

von said...

>>her hands now clutched

This might come out better as 'instead'.