This weekend I hit a major milestone in the editing process for Diyari Chronicles: the halfway point. As usual I grappled with the same thoughts: “Did my edits make a difference? Is the book any better? Why am I wasting my time?” Instead of running to my critique partner and numero uno beta reader for confirmation, I decided to give myself a pep talk. Then I thought (I know. Dangerous), why not let you guys in on my pep talk, which is really a comparison between draft four and draft five. Plus, in a recent post I said I would let you guys see some of the story. So this is killing two birds with one stone.
Before I regale you with my editing brilliance (note the post time . . . delirium time) I want to give you a brief set up. This is on page two of the story. My main character, Azer Gray, wakes up from a nightmare and can’t figure out if the voices she heard were part of her dream or reality. She stumbles into the hallway and hears her grandmother talking to someone in the bathroom. The conversation is ominous, Azer is in danger.
Draft 4: My thoughts are in bold.
Wide-eyed, she faced the bathroom door. Her mind sifted through possible responses: call 911 and report an intruder, bravely walk to the door, throw it open, run out of the house screaming like a banshee, or stare aimlessly at the bathroom door. Her mind and body chose the last option. (Why tell ya when I can show ya?)
Grandma Ruth’s hurried movements coming from behind the door held Azer’s attention. (This sentence is poorly structured.) When her grandma emerged from the bathroom, someone would be with her. Not just any someone, an unknown man, whom she argued with. Azer shook her head and quickly searched the immediate area for a potential weapon and funnel for her anxiety. A broom. (Nice try at being all poetic and deep, but not necessary) She grabbed the broom that was propped against the wall, mere inches away from her, (obviously it’s inches from her, otherwise she would not have grabbed it) just as the bathroom door creaked open. Steam encased (different word, gives a different meaning, better meaning) in light waltzed (I think infused is such a powerful word, don’t want to dilute it with a personification.) out into the foyer and shrouded her grandma.
Azer looked up at the caramel-colored woman. (Let’s talk about features like this later. Getting to her height, adds to the ominous feeling of the situation) She stood three inches taller than Azer, but appeared as a giant in this moment. Grandma Ruth’s dark brown eyes flashed fear before concern settled in them. (Again, this dilutes the eerie feeling of the moment. And GR is not really a fearful person.) She resembled an owl perched high in a tree, vigilantly watching the world below.
Draft 5: I have no thoughts about this yet. Give me two months and I will think this sucks, too.
Azer eyeballed the telephone. Then she judged her distance from the front door. Grandma Ruth’s hurried movements pulled her attention back to the bathroom. When her grandma emerged from the bathroom, someone would be with her. Not just any someone, an unknown man with whom she argued. Azer shook her head and quickly searched for a potential weapon. She grabbed the broom that was propped against the wall just as the bathroom door creaked open. Steam infused with light spilled into the foyer and shrouded her grandma. She stood three inches taller than Azer, but appeared as a giant in this moment. She resembled an owl perched high in a tree, vigilantly watching the world below.
Okay, so my quick and dirty critique: draft four sucks! It has A LOT of tell and A LOT of words and A LOT of diluting statements. Draft 5, may still suck, but there is less to suck. Thus ends the critique. Back to the celebrating. (Yes, I had a celebratory piece of cake. In fact, I made a cake, Almond Joy Cake. What can I say? I know how to celebrate.)