Still plugging along with the editing on Rain’s story (…I really need to think about nailing down the title of that badboy – working title at least). Had a really lovely moment earlier today where a tricky scene just blossomed for me. In the rough draft, it got a single paragraph intro:
And then one afternoon, while she was typing up a particularly insistent character’s story instead of working on her English paper, something very interesting, and very disturbing happened.
Brooke fell completely out of her own head.
And that’s it. Nothing more. Not a single thing to ground you in the scene or even a hint as to what’s going on- nada. The first time we really see that Rain isn’t quite a normal girl, and that’s all the build-up it got.
As I’m going along editing this beast, I’m really beginning to understand the idea of shitty first drafts. I know that some people work with outlines, but that’s just me. When I write, I typically have little to no idea how things are gonna go. I just write, and write, and write, and sometimes things really surprise me and sometimes I can kinda see where it’s going, but usually I’m just along for the ride.
In the editing, now that I know the story, I can see so much more clearly now where things need fleshing out, or need to be introduced earlier, or need to be flat redone or even cut. It makes sense now, in a way that it just plain didn’t before.
Now, as I was writing, I thought it was pretty good. Nothing amazing, mind you, and I knew there were some spots where I wasn’t getting the details right, but I let them go so I could keep writing. But I thought, on the whole, I was doing alright. That it was a mostly readable manuscript, and that most of my sentences and phrases were pretty decent.
I’m not saying that I didn’t think I needed editing, but it didn’t seem like complete crap when I was first writing it. Now, as I go over it with a harsh eye…
Well, let’s just say that I’m learning what a wonderful editor I am. 😛
The above scene, btw, got fixed into this:
Brooke moved through the next several days on auto-pilot, hearing but not listening, seeing but not absorbing. She’d never been particularly spacey, but since school started back she just couldn’t hold a thought. It seemed like every time she turned around, she’d been lost in some new character. She’d be on the bus or on her bike, then she’d be a whole new person, caught in their dreams and fears, their final thoughts before the end then Bam! Brooke again. It was more than a little disorienting, and honestly, it was starting to cause some real problems. She’s nearly ridden out into traffic today on her way home, and had been shaky ever since. Of course, it didn’t help that she’d come home to an empty house, again, but even if her mother had been home, Brooke doubted she’d have had anything comforting to say. “That’s nice dear” was not the correct response to “Hi mom, I played chicken with a Semi-truck today”.
Mood thoroughly ruined for the afternoon, Brooke parked herself at her desk and very stubbornly set to work on her English homework. She would not sit and write – she was too mad at her latest character for trying to throw her under a truck, intentional or not. Some her characters were suicidal, but this one had only been easily distracted- a journalist, head always full of query letters and article ideas, and apparently a blood clot. No one had ever seen it coming.
Before she knew it, Brooke was typing away about the young writer’s hopes and dreams, the climb to the top, the very ordinary day when his life was abruptly snuffed out. Distantly, she heard the front door open and shut, heard Myles and her mother laughing together as they climbed the stairs and moved down the hallway toward their room. Brooke did her best to tune it out, partly in typical teenage revulsion to her parents’ sex lives, but mostly so that she wouldn’t lose the story.
But it was too late. Once Brooke came back to her own thoughts, those of her characters were usually lost. She did her best to let her attention unfocus, but then Myles walked back down the hallway past her door again and Brooke gave up. She should really finish her homework anyways.
She heard Myles start to bang around in the kitchen, the smell of dinner wafting up the stairs. God, whatever he was making smelled foul. In the few times she’d eaten his cooking, it tasted alright, but she’d learned not to ask what was in it after he’d fix them goose liver.
But this, god, this was rank. It smelled like roadkill and a headshop. Brooke pushed away from her desk, concentration completely shot. She lit a hazelnut toffee candle to try and cover the smell, and turned on her stereo so when Myles came knocking at dinner time, she could pretend not to hear him. There was no way she was eating whatever it was that was making that foul smell. It was a cheap tactic, but one her parents had respected so far.
Ok, homework. This was happening. She closed her story for the night, determined not to get sidetracked again, and scanned what she’d written for her homework so far. It was mind-numbing work, but at least it was giving her something else to think about besides her step-dad and his awful cooking. She started typing, getting a good flow going, at least for a rough draft, and then,
Brooke fell completely out of her own head.
Much better, no? Also, if anyone cares to indulge me, I would love to know what “It smelled like roadkill and a headshop” evokes in your minds. I know what she’s smelling, but I wonder how it hits you, the reader, who is less in the know.
You can read the rest of Rain’s story here.