Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 14

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: 420

Edited: 319

Difference: 101

Dust, Unsettled

Chapter 03 continued

Original Story

Jessica grew uncomfortable with his words, but remembered his drunk tongue revealed secrets a sober Joey would never remember or admit to.

“I love ya, Jess. I always have.”

She looked away, lost for words. He may love her in some way, but she did not feel the same way for him. “Come on, the pizza’s getting cold,” she said.

They continued on through the front doors, up the elevator and into his one-bedroom apartment. Jessica turned on the lights and helped Joey to the couch. She set the pizza on the coffee table, then helped him settle his leg comfortably on a pillow.

“How’s that feel?”

“Better.” Joey groaned, settling himself into the indents of the couch. He held Jessica’s hand, gently caressing it. “You’re so sweet, Jess.”

“Joey, please, you’re in pain. You’re drunk. Can we just drop this sweetness bit?”[Less dialogue says more, so I whittled this down.]

“But, Jess, I love ya, and I want to show you how much,” he confessed, pulling her close and kissing her passionately.

“Joey, don’t.” Jessica tried to pull away but failed. “Joey, I’m going home. I’m tired.”

With his strength, Joey pulled her onto the couch and rolled on top. “I have waited so long for this, Jess,” he whispered, kissing her slowly several times on the mouth, then moving to her neck.

“Joey, please, stop!” Jessica cried, trying to push him away. [That exclamation mark tells us she has raised her voice; we don’t need to note she ‘cried’ it out.]

“Stop. Why?” Joey muttered, returning to her lips and letting his hands roam freely inside her blouse.

Jessica squirmed beneath him, turning her head in an attempt to avoid his kisses, but he found her mouth and continued. She hated the feel of his hands on her skin, almost to the point of making her sick. There was no passion, no feeling of love for him as he kissed her, only disgust because he was taking from her. Even when she willing kissed, there was no feeling of want. No chill of excitement raced through her body when he caressed her. She felt dead to his touch. [I condensed this because it was all over the place.]

The strong odour of beer filled Jessica’s senses as Joey smothered her face with his. He roughly pushed his tongue between her lips and teeth and began to explore her mouth for the first time. This drove Jessica into a rage, and she bit his bottom lip.

“Ow!” Joey screamed. “Why did ya do that?”

“Because you won’t stop!”

He smiled, forgiving her with a kiss on the chin. “Why would ya want me to stop? You’re gonna enjoy this.” He grinned and continued his foreplay.

Editing Quote 2

NOTE: One thing I noticed from editing this story is names distance readers from characters. Every time I mentioned a name—Jessica—or a character using a ‘the’ phrase—the man—it felt as though I was reading a story, and this didn’t allow me to get absorbed in the scene as deeply as I could have. There is only Joey and Jessica in this scene, and it’s easy to know who is saying what; there is little need for dialogue tags, and no need to mention names. He and she do not create barriers between the characters and me, so I am able to become absorbed.

When I started to think the name created distance, I tested the theory with the current novel I’m editing: Scattered Stones. And I was right. The more intimate the scene, the less you want to use a character’s name or refer to them using a ‘the’ phrase.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you feel using a character’s name creates distance? Just a wee bit? Test it and see what you think.

ADDED NOTE: It’s okay for the characters to say a name occasionally; the writer is the one who needs to step back.

Edited

Cover Playing 03Jessica grew uncomfortable, then remembered his drunk tongue revealed secrets a sober Joey would never remember.

“I love ya, Jess. I always have.”

She looked away. He may love her in some way, but she didn’t feel the same. “The pizza’s getting cold,” she said, tugging him forward.

They continued through the front doors, up the elevator and into his one-bedroom apartment. She flicked on the light and helped him to the couch. After setting the pizza on the coffee table, she lifted his leg onto a comfortably pillow.

“How’s that feel?”

“Better.” He groaned as he settled into the cushion. “You’re sweet.”

“And you’re in pain and drunk.”

“But I love ya, and I want to show you how much,” he said, pulling her close and kissing her.

“Joey, don’t.” She tried to pull away but failed. “I’m tired. I’m going home.”

Flexing his muscles, he dragged her onto the couch and rolled on top. “I’ve waited for this,” he whispered, kissing her mouth slowly before moving to her neck.

“Please stop!” She tried to push him off.

“Stop? Why?” He returned to her lips, and his hands roamed freely inside her blouse.

She squirmed beneath him, turning her head in an attempt to avoid his kiss, but he found her mouth and continued. She despised the feeling of his hands on her skin. No passion lived within her heart for him, no spark of excitement, only disgust because he took what she was unwilling to give.

The strong odour of beer filled her senses as he smothered her face with his. He roughly forced his tongue between her lips and teeth and began to explore her mouth. This drove her into a rage, and she bit his bottom lip.

“Ow! Why did ya do that?”

“Because you won’t stop!”

He smiled, forgiving her with a kiss on the chin. “But you’re gonna enjoy this.”

…until next Saturday

InspirationDoor

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 14

    • Thank you. Every day I write and/or edit, I become a better writer. Many of the things I’m fixing in this manuscript would not make it into a draft I write today because I know better.

    • I had limited the number of times a name was used to reduce repetition, but now I see there is another reason: closeness. I have never seen this mentioned before with regard to writing. I’m sure someone before me noticed it. I’ll have to do an exercise to see just how much closeness can be gained by not using names. Obviously, the more intimate the scene, the less you want to use names. The opposite may also be true; if you want characters to keep their distance, perhaps using their names will create that feel.

Please Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s