Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 10

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.

This story takes place in the late 1980s. I’ve decided to keep it there instead of updating it to 2016.

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: 408

Edited: 303

Difference: 105

Dust, Unsettled

Chapter 02 continued

Original Story

Cover playing 06“Everything okay?” Joey asked as she sat down.

“Yeah, you know Mom.”

“Yup.” He took a drink and stood. “Let’s dance.”

Jessica rose and followed him to the dance floor. They squeezed their way into the crowd and found a spot of their own. Joey wrapped one arm around her waist and the other held her hand. They slowly swayed to the beat of the music, absorbing the love song in the air. Joey held her tighter, kissed her cheek then stole a kiss from her mouth.

“Hard day?” he whispered.

“A little.” She felt uncomfortable when he held her this tight, able to feel every muscle in his body. It was as if he wanted to take something she was unwilling to give. She pushed away a little and he released his hold. Her chin rested on his shoulder and she stared at the rest on the dance floor. The waltz cast a certain type of calmness over the tavern like the calm before the storm, but it ended quickly when the guitarist began pounding out a fast song. [There were a lot of extra unnecessary words in this paragraph. I cut the word county by half.]

Joey quickly two-stepped and shook his hands in the air as he screamed, “Yeehaw!”

Jessica laughed at his crazy dancing and tried to imitate his moves. She added a little fancy foot work of her own and smiled at his surprised face.

Chapter 3

“Come on, one more drink,” insisted Joey.

It was almost twelve-thirty and Jessica already had a wine cooler and two cans of pop.

“Joey, I said one drink and I’ve had three. I’m not thirsty anymore.” Jessica rose from the table. “Do you want a lift home or are you gonna sit here until close?”

“It closes at one. Why don’t ya stay til then?”

“Bye.” Jessica turned to leave, unwilling to argue with a drunk for a half an hour.

“Wait.” Joey stumbled after her. “What’s got into you? You usually like stayin’ out all night.”

“Joey, let’s go.” She pulled him by the hand from the tavern into the empty mall.

“What’s your problem?”

“The world. Let’s go. I’ll give you a lift home.”

“I can drive!” Joey bellowed. [A good example of bookism.]

“You can drive yourself right off a bloody bridge.” [I have always been against drinking and driving. If my characters ever did this, they’d pay dearly for it. Having lost a friend to drinking and driving, I won’t let a character do it even if it is fiction. On average, one accident a year within 20 minutes of my home (and I live in rural Nova Scotia) claims a life through drinking and driving.]

“You worry too much.”

“Well, someone has to, especially, for you.” [I deleted words in the dialogue here and there to make it more direct.]

Jessica led Joey through the deserted mall and to the long hallway with an outside exit.

“I’m hungry.” Joey announced. [More bookism. Also, I used their names 11 times in this chapter alone. It’s only the two of them, so she and he works fine.] “I could go for a pizza.”

She smiled. He was always hungry when he drank.

Edited

“Everything okay?” asked Joey when she returned.

“You know Mom.”

“Yup.” He took a drink, then stood. “Let’s dance.” He led her onto the dance floor, wrapped his arm around her waist and held her hand. They slowly swayed to the rhythm of the love song. Holding her close, he kissed her. “Hard day?”

“It was.” She felt uncomfortable dancing this close so pulled away slightly. Her chin rested on his shoulder, and she stared at the other dancers. The waltz had calmed the tavern atmosphere. It ended quickly when the guitarist began pounding out a fast song.

Joey quickly two-stepped, shook his hands in the air and screamed, “Yeehaw!”

Jessica laughed at his crazy dancing and tried to imitate his moves. She added a little fancy footwork of her own and smiled at his surprised face.

Horse grazing

Chapter 3

“One more drink,” said Joey, grinning.

“I’ve had enough,” said Jessica. It was almost twelve-thirty, and after a wine cooler and two cans of pop, she was no longer thirsty. She stood. “Do you want a lift home, or are you going to staying?”

“It closes in thirty minutes. Stay.” He held her hand and attempted to pull her onto his lap.

“Bye.” She tugged her hand free and turned to leave.

“Wait.” He stumbled after her. “What’s up? You usually like stayin’ out all night.”

“I’m tired. I worked all day.” She grabbed his hand and dragged him through the tavern and into the empty mall.

“What’s your problem?”

“Life. I’ll drive you home.”

“I can drive!”

“Right off a bloody bridge.”

“You worry too much.”

“Someone has to. You’re not drinking and driving.”

They walked silently through the empty mall and to the parking lot.

“I’m hungry,” said Joey. “I could go for a pizza.”

She smiled. He was always hungry when he drank.

…until next Saturday

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One thought on “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 10

  1. Yes, reads cleaner and easier with the edit. I like putting my own opinions into a story like you did with the drinking and driving. It can be awfully tricky though because it can sound like preaching. You didn’t preach though. You handled it well.

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