Tag Archives: gottakeepwriting

An analysis of a flash fiction edit: draft to final

So, as you may or may not know, I write silly short fiction based on my workplace. And I wrote one recently that I’m not happy with – so I though it’s a pretty much perfect piece to analyse, and give some idea of how I work as a writer.

The edits are the hard bit to explain, often – unless you watch an editor work – and it’s often just trial and error that makes things work.

Version One

True power is never good or evil, you see. It lies in the hands of those who hold it, and lies with their decisions; and a neutral overlord is in many ways more terrifying than the maniacal laughter or the sweeping righteousness of the extremes.

He was good at his job; knew when to put a finger on the scales to tip the decision, and when to give a subordinate enough length to make their own bad decisions. The chastisement was never bad, per se; but it left you feeling like you had a pit in your soul. But the truly terrifying thing was that he did not care; underlings were resources, and when those clear eyes looked at you, you were judged useful – or not.

So! In this one…I haven’t caught the emotions I want. Paragraph 1 Line 1 works, I think. Line 2…doesn’t. It captures the feel, but it’s too long – it overdoes something that could take fewer words to say.

Paragraph 2; hmm. There’s a repetition of “decision” that I don’t like; I did want to use “enough rope to hang themselves” but I hate that expression, and the substitute doesn’t work. As for the next two lines, hmm, They’ve sort of captured the feel but they’re still very muddled. I want to use a specific example there, I think – it’s too general a feel, and I want to narrow it down.

Version two

He was not the maniacal-laughter type, but it was generally agreed that amongst the Evil Villains of the world, he was ranked pretty high. He was extremely good at his job; knew when to put a finger on the scales to tip the balance, and when to give a subordinate enough length to make their own bad calls. The clear eyes would look at you and judge you useful, or not; but that simply allowed him to use or discard resources for the project’s best interests. And the chastisement for failure was never extreme; but it left the subject with a pit in their soul, a chip on their spine, and the feeling that they had somehow failed beyond any measure of redemption.

This actually went through about two rounds of tweaks before I remembered that I was trying to keep track of what I was doing and why! You can see that quite a lot has changed…

So, I’ve removed the start; I just want the feeling of “Evil Villain” so I may as well state that outright.

From the original paragraph 2, with too many “decisions”; I’ve changed that to “call” in the second, and “balance” in the first. I’ve also extended the idea of being judged useful or not.

And the final line; to give the failure some consequence, and tell us something about the person – a final jab.

Unfortunately I feel like I need a red pen and highlighter to try to catch everything else I’ve done, and why; I’ll try to do this again with another piece and catch more of the reasons for the changes!

Writing: Wizards & Work, Part 5

Still scribbling my silly little character studies! (Standard disclaimer: very very loosely based on people at work, and not intended to be a comment on anyone at all!)

You can also read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

 

He was not the maniacal-laughter type, but it was generally agreed that amongst the Evil Villains of the world, he was ranked pretty high. He was extremely good at his job; knew when to put a finger on the scales to tip the balance, and when to give a subordinate enough length to make their own bad calls. The clear eyes would look at you and judge you useful, or not; but that simply allowed him to use or discard resources for the project’s best interests. And the chastisement for failure was never extreme; but it left the subject with a pit in their soul, a chip on their spine, and the feeling that they had somehow failed beyond any measure of redemption.

 

He is always cold; his elegant bones hidden under sweaters and scarves, long fingers wrapped in woollen gloves. He drinks his tea steaming-hot, bringing a brief flush to sallow cheeks.

“Your wind is chill,” he says, even though the air is still today. “And it sings with strange voices.”

 

He was a Knight of the old school; he wore his sword on his hip and a smile on his face, ever-polite and ever-vigilant. He often came in with bruises, and spoke of his endless fighting practise; his daughters were being brought up in the old tradition, and he would grumble about their results on his limbs. But his horse was a roaring dragon; his skill with a pen as swift as that with his sword; and his smile brightened every conversation, despite his increasing scars.

 

“As old as the sea!” he says unexpectedly over a jar of potion in the kitchen.

“As old as the stars,” as we’re wrangling an imp back into a box.

“As old as the stones,” is his comment when the HR manager corners him to update her files, a folder floating at her fingertips expectantly.

“So how old are you?” I ask curiously as we’re taking a break from a piece of spellwork knotted beyond all recognition.

“Well, put it this way.” He scratches his head. “If I live this long again, I might stand a chance of seeing those builders finish my bloody conservatory.”

 

He stomps around, shaking the floor and rattling pens across desks; he doesn’t take up much space, but his small frame seems to carry twice as much weight as one would expect for his size. His emotions, too, are heavier; he can crack his craggy facade into a smile if you amuse him, but more often it is scored into the deep lines of a frown, settling down into the rocky crags of grumpiness with the ease of an eons-old fault line.

 

“OhmySTARS your DRESS!”

“It’s great, isn’t it? It has pockets! Custom portable mini dimensions, I can fit two elephants and still have room for my crossbow!”

“And aren’t those KillSheathe Sparklies? They look amazing! Have you tested them?”

“Only on watermelons, but I can split one with a single kick!” She twirls to show off the heels with their metallic stripes and glittering edges, and brushes a lock of blonde hair back into its twisted knot on her head, pinned with something that looks suspiciously like a narrow dagger.

“I didn’t know footwear could be weaponry,” one of the younger designers says, bewildered.

The tiny pixie spins with a happy smile, her dress swirling out despite the multiple items apparently residing in the pockets. “Anything can be weaponry! It’s getting it in fashion that’s the hard part.”

Greensky (sort of) News…

Otter is reading Green Sky & Sparks.

via GIPHY

Which, uh. Is great. Brilliant. It’s ok. Everything’s fine.

OH CRAP THEY LIKE IT AND THEY’RE COMMENTING AHHHHHHHH.

via GIPHY

I mean, it’s really cool. And intimidating. And frankly terrifying.

(I suppose I should be grateful that there aren’t explicit sex scenes – at least, not in this series – and it’s not my mother reading it, so…)

Anyhow. It’s actually pretty awesome, as they really like it so far! I’ve got a private bet (well, ok, Otter probably knows about it by now) that they’ll immediately demand the next one, considering they seem to already have a stake in Catter & Toru getting together, so…

(Hey, at least I don’t kill anyone at the end of this book!)

via GIPHY

So! It’s pretty exciting, and hopefully it’ll lead to my getting some mojo back to actually finish Book 10 and get Book 7 published – if only because Otter wants to read it!

via GIPHY

A Friday Update – April 2019

Still in a bit of a slump at the moment, really! Struggling to get through my home reading, still got writer’s block, absolutely zero motivation, and everything’s a little grey. Nothing that I can put my finger on as a cause, but the anxiety knot hasn’t eased for a week or so. I’m hoping that a day of getting organised this weekend will help.

sheep in a field