This 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
Chapter 06 continued
“Not now,” she [said, driving (The verb ‘made’ is a safe, unexciting word. I used it years ago because it was an easy choice. Now I know there are better verbs to describe the action. It doesn’t have to be a complicated word, simply state what is actually happening: ‘driving’ is more descriptive than ‘making her way’ and uses fewer words.) ] says to the bike, as she makes her way deeper into the woods, following [on] a winding trail. “Now, there’s no reason to even get up. What is there to do? Work at a job I hate? Sit and stare at a boring television set? No one felt like tossing [wants to toss] the ball around or having [have] a game of scrimmage. They would rather watch a game on the tube or were too busy doing nothing.”
The wind picked up slightly, blowing [and] thicker clouds [moved in] into the area, blocking out a little more [the] sunlight. The rain increased, [No comma – the comma before ‘but’ can be removed if there is a comma shortly afterwards.] but under the cover of the tall fir trees, Jessica [she] barely noticed. Small streams of rain water [rainwater] dug gullies (In general this is not true, so it will be removed. In the forest, the ground is secure because of the many plant roots.) [flowed across] in the black earth, uncovering [glistening on] the [exposed] entangled tree roots criss-crossing [crossing] the trail. The roots gave traction to the three big rubber tires in the slippery mud as they climbed the small hills [hill] and descended the other side.
Jessica pulled [turned] off the main trail continued as it [that led to] the barrens for another two miles and she headed [drove] towards Wishbone Lake half a mile away. Several minutes later, she stopped [parked near] on the bank along side the greenish watered lake, searching [and searched] the shore [shoreline] and the island a thousand feet from shore for no particular thing. She watched the rain beat on the surface of the water, letting her senses refill with nature’s beauty, cleansing her pores of society’s pollution.
A flash of lightning bounced off the water, surprising [her.] Jessica, and The instant crackle [made her jump.] trembled her a little.
“Wow, I felt that!” exclaimed Jessica. She watched The sky as it lit up and a rumble shook the land. Sitting on three rubber tires, [No comma] erased her fear of being struck by the bolt of electricity. “The safest place to be in a lightning storm is in a car,” her mother would always [said] say. Remembering long drives her family would embarked on all because of a thunder and lightning storms made a [her] smile appear on her face (The last time I looked, a smile can only appear on a face, so it is unnecessary to state that fact. If a smile appears somewhere else, make note of that.). “I guess this would be the second best place,” assumed Jessica. [OR: This is the second best place, she thought.] She wiggled her toes inside her drenched soxes [socks (I had seen the words ‘Boston Red Sox’ so many times when I was a kid, I thought the spelling for the things that went on my feet was sox. If you had a pair, it was soxes. It turns out, sox is the plural form for sock, but it is rarely used in Canada.)] and sneakers. They were not cold, but they could be in a drier place.
“Guess, I could do with A hot chocolate [would feel good right now.],” she stated as She kick started the bike [and turned it for home]. Following the worn path, she turned the bike and headed for home.
“Shit!” Jessica exclaimed as she saw A bolt of lightning hit a tree twenty feet away. “That was too close for comfort.” She kicked up to third gear [and sped away, leaning close to the bike to avoid passing branches.] , the fastest anyone travelled through these trails safely. Her legs were snuggly wrapped around the gas tank to make her one with the vehicle and her head leaned close to the handle bars to avoid passing branches.
She [hadn’t] travelled [far when] about five minutes before her eyes grew with fright. In a flash, A the lightning bolt hit [struck] her in the chest, driving [propelling] her [through the air.] to the ground as The three-wheeler crashed into the [bushes] row of birch and fir lining the trail. The hum of the motor mixed with the [sounds of the] falling rain [hitting] on the forest floor and the cool wind whistled [whistling] through the trees.
…end of chapter
“Not now,” she said, driving deeper into the woods on a winding trail. What is there to do? Work at a job I hate? Sit and stare at a boring television set? No one wants to toss the ball around or have a game of scrimmage. They would rather watch a game on the tube.
The wind picked up and thicker clouds moved in, blocking the sunlight. The rain increased but under the cover of the tall trees, she barely noticed. Small streams of rainwater flowed across the black earth, glistening on the exposed tree roots crossing the trail. The roots gave traction to the three big rubber tires in the slippery mud as they climbed the small hill and descended the other side.
Jessica turned off the main trail that led to the barrens and drove towards Wishbone Lake. Several minutes later, she parked near the lake and searched the shoreline. She watched the rain beat on the surface of the water, letting her senses refill with nature’s beauty, cleansing her pores of society’s pollution.
A flash of lightning bounced off the water, surprising her. The crackle made her jump.
“Wow, I felt that!” The sky lit up and a rumble shook the land. Sitting on three rubber tires erased her fear of being struck by the bolt of electricity. “The safest place to be in a lightning storm is in a car,” her mother always said. Remembering long drives her family embarked on because of lightning storms made her smile. This is the second best place, she thought. She wiggled her toes inside her drenched socks and sneakers.
“A hot chocolate would feel good right now.” She started the bike and turned it for home.
“Shit!” A bolt of lightning hit a tree twenty feet away. “That was too close for comfort.” She kicked up to third gear and sped away, leaning close to the bike to avoid passing branches.
She hadn’t travelled far when her eyes grew with fright. A lightning bolt struck her chest, propelling her through the air. The three-wheeler crashed into the bushes. The hum of the motor mixed with the sounds of the rain hitting the forest floor and the cool wind whistling through the trees.
…end of chapter six