Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 09

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: 428

Edited: 331

Difference: 97

Dust, Unsettled

Chapter 02 continued

Original Story

Cover Playing 04Jessica understood what happened ever though many of Peter’s words were lost in the music.

“Tim was fucking on fire when he came in the back! It was bitch this, bitch that! Fuck, he wanted to kill the fucking bitch!”

She found it amazing how some people could incorporate the word ‘fuck’ into every sentence they said, especially in taverns. Maybe they thought they were cool or tough when they used it. She thought it was stupid. [This paragraph is now unnecessary since I reduced the F-bombs down to one.]

“Are you gonna get me a fuckin’ beer or talk all night about some fuckin’ bitch?

“Comin’ the fuck up.” He slapped him on the shoulder with a smile. “The usual, Jessica?”

Jessica nodded. The usual was a wine cooler.

“Look! There’s Gary!” Joey nudged her and pointed towards the dance floor. “He’s with a different slut tonight!”

She found their friend wrapped around a thin blonde in a black mini skirt. What kept that stretched material over her hips, she thought. One wrong wiggle and it would snap up to her armpits.

“Why don’t you wear things like that?” Joey spoke in her ear. “You’d look great.”

“Because I’m not out to pick up something like Gary.”

He laughed and kissed her cheek.

Peter returned and placed two bottles and a glass on the table. “Sorry, Jessica, but there’s no ice.” [I’m not sure why this was important, and I can’t imagine a tavern being out of ice. So I removed it.]

“That’s okay, Peter. Thanks.”

“That’ll be $6.55.”

Joey handed Peter seven dollars and waved away the change.

Jessica took a drink from the bottle, then said, “I have to phone Mom to tell her I’ll be a little late.”

“Say hi for me.”

She made her way through the crowded tavern to the payphone by the entrance. After depositing a quarter into the slot, she quickly punched her home number. [Payphones: they were a lifeline while away from home in the 1980s. Obviously, we didn’t have cell phones. I remember when calls were only a dime. Then they went up to a quarter. It’s been about two years since I used a payphone—I don’t have a cell phone, but my kids do, and the time I hit the deer and had to call home, I used the cell phone of the hunter who stopped to check on the deer…I mean me. Checking the price online, I see it now costs 50 cents to make a call. Ouch!]

“Hello.”

“Hi, Mom. I’m gonna be a little late,” Jessica said. “I’m at the Blue Whale.”

“Who are you with?”

“Joey. He came by the store when I was closing and asked me out for a drink.”

“Are you going to be late? Are we still going to the Sunday Market?”

“I won’t be late. I should be home by twelve. Don’t wait up for me.” [I cleaned up the dialogue. Several words were not needed.]

“Okay. Stay with Joey. I wish you two would settle down and stay out of the bars. It’s not safe in those places.”

“Mom, I gotta go. Bye.” Jessica hung up the phone. She wondered why her mother assumed Joey would stay clear of the bars after he married. And what made her think he would marry her? The only time she heard Joey talk about marriage, he was criticizing the union.

Edited

The loud music drowned out many of Pete’s words, but Jessica heard enough to understand what had happened.

“Tim was on fire when he came out back!” said Pete, excitement flashing in his eyes. “He wanted to kill that bitch!”

Beer“Does this bitch story come with a beer?” Joey smirked.

“Damn right it does.” He slapped him on the shoulder. “The usual, Jessica?”

She nodded. The usual was a wine cooler.

“There’s Gary!” Joey nudged her and pointed towards the dance floor. “He’s got a new tramp.”

She found their friend wrapped around a thin blonde in a black mini skirt. What kept the material stretched over her hips? One wrong wiggle and it would snap up to her armpits.

“Why don’t you wear skirts like that?” he said. “You’d look great.”

“Because I don’t want to pick up something like Gary.”

He laughed and kissed her cheek.

Pete returned and placed two bottles on the table. “That’s six-fifty, buddy.”

Joey handed him seven dollars and waved away the change.

Jessica took a drink, then said, “I have to call Mom and tell her I’ll be a little late.”

“Say hi for me.”

She made her way through the crowded tavern to the pay phones by the entrance. After depositing a quarter into the slot, she quickly punched her home number.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Mom,” said Jessica. “I’m at the Blue Whale Tavern.”

“Who are you with?”

“Joey. He asked me out for a drink.”

“Are you going to be late? Are we still going to the Sunday Market?”

“I won’t be too late. Don’t wait up for me.”

“Okay. Stay with Joey. I wish you two would settle down and stay out of the bars.”

“Mom, I gotta go. Bye.” Jessica hung up the phone. Why did her mother assume Joey would stay clear of the bars if he married? And what made her think she’d marry him? The only time Joey talked about marriage, he was making fun of it.

…until next Saturday

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11 thoughts on “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 09

  1. Reads much better after the edit. Although most people have cell phones (I don’t have one either), payphones are still around but not on street corners anymore so having Jessica use one still if feasible, especially in a tavern/bar.

    • Thank you, Glynis. This story was originally set in the 1980s (back when I wrote it). If I remember correctly, in the late 1980s, my brother–who owned a construction company–had a ‘shoe phone’. It was a box as big as a shoe box and had to be plugged into his truck. The receiver was like a house phone receiver and had a cord connecting it to the phone.

      I have decided to keep this story in the 1980s, so no one has a cell phone. Anyway, where Jessica is going, she wouldn’t be able to use a cell phone is she had one.

      Thanks for visiting, and for leaving a comment.

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