Editing a western romance novel “Dust, Unsettle” 24

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: 508

Edited: 377

Difference: 131

Dust, Unsettled

Chapter 06 continued

Original Story

Horse Running CroppedThe thin clouds above [A] gently sprinkled [rain fell as] the ground in front of Jessica as she checked the gas in the all terrain [all-terrain] cycle. The big red [Big Red] three wheeler [three-wheeler] had plenty of [fuel] gas to last the rest of the day and she replaced the cap. She was dressed in [wore] a two-piece yellow rain suit[,] and a pair of old track sneakers with [and] a pair of soccer shin pads pulled over her pant legs to keep the [engine] heat from the engine from melting the plastic rain suit. After an hour on the bike, the engine would heat to a temperature so hot, it would melt or burn anything that touched it, including skin. She quickly found this out the first time she rode barefoot on the machine. [After pulling on work gloves,] she pulled on a pair of grey leather work gloves and pressed the automatic start. Nothing.

“That’s weird[.]she said to herself. She rechecked to see if all the proper switches were on. “It should start. It’s in gear [neutral].” She tried again, [no comma] with the same results. “Damn, it started fine Friday.”

Jessica [She] leant over the front of the handlebars and shook her head at [a dozen mangled] the many wires going everywhere. She rustled [jiggled] a few, trying [then tried] the automatic start again [with the same], but this failed to produce any results. “Okay, Who the hell was friggin’ with this,” she growled.

“You have to kick it now,” replied [said] her older brother, [no comma] standing in the doorway of the tool shed. Behind him The door to the wood stove was open [behind him, revealing] and she could see a roaring fire inside.

“Why? What’d you do to it?” Jessica [she] asked in a tempered voice. He always played with things, ruining it for everyone else.

“I fixed the headlight. It comes on now,[.]” He grunted, heading [and went] back inside the shed.

Gee, Ain’t I lucky,” she mumbled[.] to herself, “I now have a headlight that worked anyways, [no comma] when you [I] hit a bump, [no comma] but no automatic start.”

Jessica [She] pulled out the kick start [kick-start pedal] and with [after] three kicks, the motor turned over. She pushed the kick start [pedal] back into its resting position and settled onto the seat, snug against the gas tank. [With her left foot, she put the bike into gear and drove] After a moment was wasted on the bike warming up, she reversed to pull away from the shed.

The rain fell gently on Jessica’s [her] face as she travelled the dirt road in third gear for a half [a] mile to the trail leading through the woods. She [had] spent her childhood running [on the trails cut] through [the trees,] the evergreen and birch surrounding her and enjoyed the long days of shelter building [forts], tree climbing [trees] and [picking berries] berry and flower picking.

[New paragraph] Oh, yes, She had plenty of enjoyable things to do when she was younger. It seemed to her [It felt as if] she [had] spent every day in the woods, even camping out a couple nights each summer. But she knew She did other things, too, [no commas —] such as playing baseball, swimming, fishing, tobogganing[,] and those weeks in the summer she spent camping [by the ocean]. How had she managed to fit all these things [activities] into one childhood? She guessed that is why children were up at dawn and still going come the night. [OR: Running from dawn to dusk, she guessed.]

Edited

Cover playing 09A gently rain fell as Jessica checked the gas in the all-terrain cycle. The Big Red three-wheeler had plenty of fuel, and she replaced the cap. She wore a two-piece yellow rain suit, a pair of old track sneakers and soccer shin pads pulled over her pant legs to keep the engine heat from melting the plastic suit. After pulling on work gloves, she pressed the automatic start. Nothing.

“That’s weird.” She rechecked to see if the proper switches were on. “It should start. It’s in neutral.” She tried again with the same results. “Damn, it started fine Friday.”

She leant over the front of the handlebars and shook her head at a dozen mangled wires. She jiggled a few, then tried the automatic start again with the same results. “Who the hell was friggin’ with this,” she growled.

“You have to kick it,” said her older brother standing in the doorway of the tool shed. The door to the wood stove was open behind him, revealing a roaring fire inside.

“Why? What’d you do to it?” she asked in a tempered voice.

“I fixed the headlight.” He grunted and went back inside the shed.

“Ain’t I lucky,” she mumbled. “I have a headlight that worked anyways when I hit a bump but no automatic start.”

She pulled out the kick-start pedal and after three kicks, the motor turned over. She pushed the pedal into its resting position and settled onto the seat, snug against the gas tank. With her left foot, she put the bike into gear and drove away from the shed.

The rain fell gently on her face as she travelled the dirt road for half a mile to the trail leading through the woods. She had spent her childhood running on the trails cut through the trees, and enjoyed long days of building forts, climbing trees and picking berries.

She had plenty of enjoyable things to do when she was younger. It felt as if she had spent every day in the woods, even camping out a couple nights each summer. She did other things, too— baseball, swimming, fishing, tobogganing, camping by the ocean. How had she managed to fit all these activities into one childhood? Running from dawn to dusk, she guessed.

…until next time.

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