Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 06

Dust, UnsettledThis is a series of posts appearing each Saturday morning, sharing the story and the editing of Dust, Unsettled, a western romance written in the 1980s by the teenage version of myself. To learn more about this exercise, check out the original post.

The first section is the original writing. It’s filled with poor dialogue tags, unnecessary words and poor story telling. In the brackets [ ] I’ll point out issues with the writing. I won’t point out every issue, only three or four per Saturday.

Word Count Comparison

Original: 418

Edited: 301

Difference: 117

Dust, Unsettled

Chapter 01 continued

Original Story

Cover playing 02“Yeah. Me.” Mike cut in as he returned from the back.

“Michael, is it twelve, yet?”

“Here are the pictures. Don’t get your prints on them.”

“Funny,” hissed Jessica. [Hiss…there was a time when my characters hissed a lot. You’d swear they were a knot of snakes the way they went on. Hissed falls into the bookism category but worse, how can anyone say ‘funny’ in a hissy way? I can hiss ‘kiss’. I can hiss ‘bubbles’, but I can’t hiss ‘funny’. If you still use hiss (and I might once in every 500,000 words), use it only if the last word in the sentence contains an S. Say it. If you can hiss it, you can use it. Otherwise, choose another dialogue tag.] “I think Rachel likes you. She always gives you the days off you want.”

“That’s the horror of having a nice ass,” Mike bragged. “If you wore tighter pants, you might get special treatment, too.”

“I’ll take my chances because I’m not wearing tight pants.”

“I don’t know. I think you’d look good.”

“Go.” Jessica pushed Mike away from looking at her behind. “Seriously though. I think Rachel has a crush on you.”

“Jess, she’s old enough to be my damn mother.”

“Well, maybe she wants to breast feed you.” She laughed as he attacked her with his white glove.

“Take that and that.” Mike swung his glove like a sword as she attempted to grab his hand.

Bang! Bang! Someone knocked on the front window.

Both looked to see the lady who worked in the shop two doors down shake her finger at them and smile. They waved and she continued down the mall.

Chapter 2

Jessica kept busy after Mike left. By the time Carrie arrived, much of the backlogged orders were completed and she could work at a comfortable pace. Besides a few mistakes by Carrie, the rest of the day passed without incident, but Jessica was relieved when it finally came time to close.

“It’s 9:30. Can I go? I have to catch a bus,” Carrie asked as she watched Jessica rush around shutting down the machines.

“Yeah, go ahead,” Jessica answered, glad to be rid of her.

“See ya later. Have a nice weekend,” Carrie sang as she left the store.

“Yeah,” Jessica said to empty air. “What’s left of it.” She pulled the cover over the chemistry tanks in the printing machine and checked all the switches. “I wonder if she’s as stupid as she acts. Impossible. No one can be that stupid so she doesn’t have to work like me. Maybe she’s the smartest of us all.”

“Talkin’ to yourself again? That’s a sure sign of senility.”

Jessica quickly turned around. It was Joey who eavesdropped on her personal conversation.

“Hey, buddy, what’s up?” Her voice rose with excitement.

“About five foot, ten the last I checked,” Joey said with a grin.

“Are you shopping?”

“Nah, I’m goin’ fishin’,” Joey smirked.

Jessica smiled. She knew he meant he was going ice fishing for a cold one at the Blue Whale Tavern down the mall. [I trimmed the dialogue. There was a lot of clutter with words such as ‘yeah’ and ‘well’. I also translated much of the bookism to ‘said’. I love said.]

Edited

“I Do!” Mike grinned and gave her the trimmed photographs.

“Michael, is it twelve yet?” said Jessica. “I think Rachel has a crush on you. She gives you the best schedule.”

“That’s the horror of having a nice ass,” he bragged. “You need tighter pants to accentuate your ass…ets.”

“Not in this life time.”

“You’d look great in skin-tight jeans.”

“Go.” She shoved him away as he stretched his neck to look at her behind. “Seriously, I think Rachel wants you.”

“She’s old enough to be my mother.”

“Maybe she wants to breast feed you.” She laughed as he attacked her with his white glove.

“Take that.” Mike swung his glove like a sword.

Bang! Bang! Someone knocked on the front window.

Both looked to see the lady who worked in the shop two doors down shake her finger at them and smile. They waved and she continued down the mall.

Chapter 2

horseJessica kept busy after Mike left and caught up with the orders by the time Carrie arrived. The day passed quietly as she helped customers and rearranged the chemical cabinet.

“It’s nine-thirty. Can I go? I have to catch a bus.” Carrie stood with her jacket in her hand watching Jessica shut down the machines.

“Go ahead.”

“Have a nice weekend,” sang Carrie as she left.

“What’s left of it,” said Jessica to empty air. She covered the chemistry tanks in the printing machine and turned off the switches. “One day isn’t a weekend.”

“Talkin’ to yourself is a sign of senility.”

She turned quickly and saw Joey eavesdropping on her personal conversation. “What’s up?”

“About five-foot-ten the last I checked.” He grinned.

“Are you shopping?”

“Nah, goin’ fishin’.”

She smiled. That meant he was going ice fishing for a cold one at the Blue Whale Tavern down the mall.

…until next Saturday

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4 thoughts on “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 06

    • I agree. This novel was written by an inexperienced writers (me in her late teens), so she included a lot of unnecessary material. And in this case, it feels good to trim. Flipping through the story last week and reading small sections tells me there are scenes that need more muscle. Trimming the fat makes room for the muscle, so the story won’t be too long. I have no idea the length of it, but I hope it falls around 60,000 words. To me, that’s a good weekend read for a romance.

      Thanks for visiting, Mallee, and for leaving a comment.

    • Thanks, Darlene. I’m playing around with covers and a new program. Soon I will write a post about this. I’m still in the learning stage. Almost all the images you see on this blog for the past few weeks is done with the program. It’s pretty neat, and it’s free.

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