Friday, June 12, 2009

Anon said:
“NO!” Andy gasped for air, but it gave her no relief. She felt all of the plans they had made together slipping away. She and Kent were supposed to have a long life together. See the world together. They were going to start a family together. Their future was being taken away from them because someone couldn’t keep their damn eyes open.

I'm not sure what's happening here, so read this with that cluelessness in mind. :)

“NO!” Andy gasped for air, but it gave her no relief.
The copy editor will lower-case that O, and the exclamation point should be enough to convey the wail.

What is "it?" That's a pronoun, and replaces a noun, not a whole clause (she gasped for air). How about "but she gained no relief" or "she got no relief" or.... Keep in mind that if the reader has to go looking for a noun antecedent to the pronoun, her forward reading motion is stopped, and you've lost. Pronouns are quite useful in eliminating repetition, but their antecedence should be clear on the first read. If not, fix. This is one of those little nagging things that will make your prose jagged instead of smooth, so minor as "it" might seem, you really need to fix.

I'm not sure what sort of relief is needed, because I don't know what the problem is-- is she breathless? There's that awful feeling of being hit in the solar plexus, and that's what I'm getting from this?
She felt all of the plans they had made together slipping away.
You're pretty much in her POV, so you don't need "she felt"-- I don't really have a problem with it, but if I were worried about word count or wordiness, I'd delete.

"They had made" doesn't need "together"-- if "they" made the plans, they would have been together. It's being used as an intensifier, and it's okay, but feels a bit slack.

She and Kent were supposed to have a long life together. See the world together. They were going to start a family together.

Sin boldly. If you're going to use one sentence fragment, use two. I'm still feeling that this is slack. I don't know how to explain it (except you've used together again and again... do you want to emphasize that?), but it doesn't feel very taut, and I suspect you want some sense of conflict and danger (if only emotional) here. See if it's any tauter like this:
She and Kent were supposed to have a long life together. See the world. Start a family.
I don't know-- what do you think?

Their future was being taken away from them because someone couldn’t keep their damn eyes open.

"Someone" is singular and "their" is plural. Sorry, but that's the first thing that jumped out at me. Since "she and Kent" are "their/them" in the first half of the sentence, this is a mistake that is likely to bother more readers than just your editor. Also "being taken away from them" could be replaced by a more vital verb, a single word. was deleted? was risked? And "was" might be the wrong tense there-- would be? might be? "Was being" means it's happening (literary past), right now, and it's not a prediction. If you want that, okay, but if she's just imagining this might happen, go with "would be" or "could be" to keep it conditional.

But also, the sentence is a passive construction, and that's something else that might strip the vitality from your passage. Their future was being taken away-- by whom? Does that matter? I don't know, but consider it and see if you can recast to make it active.

I don't like "damn eyes" because the rhythm seems wrong-- goddamn eyes?

I don't know what you mean by that, but I'm assuming it's clear in the scene.

I would suggest you look for ways to make this feel more taut and immediate, if possible. This seems like just a split second between realization and results of an event, and if so, you want to make the commentary in between as sharp and quick as you can.

Alicia

11 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

What if...

She and Kent were supposed to have a long life together. See the world. Together. Start a family. Together.

Like you, though, I'm assuming the togetherness is what's important here. But maybe this could be too much togethering; maybe it'll hit the reader over the head until the reader's like poor Kent. Whatever just happened to him.

I'm not sure.

Leona said...

Wow. I found your site today and I love it. How do you submit a beginning for you to tear apart? I have one I'd love some input on.

Leona

JewelTones said...

I thought the same thing on this part:

She and Kent were supposed to have a long life together. See the world together. They were going to start a family together.

She and Kent were supposed to have a long life together. See the world. Start a family.

It feels more immediate and has more impact to my mind, drives home what they were supposed to have (and therefore what they're losing) like nails in a coffin.

and then this parts seems to slow down that forceful feel. I think it's because it's such a low sentence following that bam-bam-bam feel.

Their future was being taken away from them because someone couldn’t keep their damn eyes open.

So something tighter and harder seems to make sense to me.

Their future stolen by exhausted a-hole behind the wheel.

I'm assuming it's a car accident. That's the way it sounds to me anyway.

JT

JewelTones said...

Oops. There's an "an" in front of that "exhausted a-hole." LOL.

JT

Edittorrent said...

Leona, please, not a beginning. That's an old exercise, and openings require special handling I'm not up for right now (brain dead-- too brain dead for editing, but I will manage that :).

If you want me to look at four lines or less, just post here, but there are 35 in front of you, so it might take awhile. Just don't make it the opening, please, because I'm not going to evaluate it as an opening, and it'll be a waste of your time. Just a paragraph from inside a scene that you aren't sure about.

And as you can see, I don't do praise well, so it can be terrific and I'll still rip it apart. (G)

Alicia

Edittorrent said...

You know, something else occurred to me. If this is a car accident or something like that, she'd probably know at a glance if this "someone" was male or female. If so, it should be "some guy" and "his". Using non-gendered pronouns is only appropriate when she can't tell what gender the person is.
Alicia

Murphy said...

Man, after seeing how painstakingly detailed Alicia is re-working all of these (which is very generous of her btw and wouldn't it be nice if everyone who received a line edit bought one of the ebooks Red Sage currently has on their Fifteen year Anniversary special for 1.50, so they can see first hand what a great job these gals do on an entire book?) Hey, I thought I'd get a plug in there for you.

But um, back to my original point. After seeing how lengthy and thoughtful the process is from the editor’s end, you can be sure that I'm going to accept my requested revisions with a big smile on my face from now on - before I profusely thank my Editor until she tells me to either to shut up...or get my nose out of her ass - - :D.

And if you see her - don't tell her I was here. I'm supposed to be working...but you guys are always so much fun to visit with, I couldn't help myself:).

jaymi said...

Wow. A super big thanks for all of the input. From Alicia and otherwise.

Thanks
Jaymi

Edittorrent said...

Thank, Susan! The hard part really isn't editing, it's explaining the reasoning. So as long as no one says, "Why did you move that comma?" I'm fine.

"House style," that always works. "The copy editor hates semicolons."

Alicia

Edittorrent said...

Thanks, Murph! You are so right. :)
A

Jaymi said...

I know you are busy, but is this any better?

“NO!” Andy knew that all of the plans she and Kent made had been taken away. They were supposed to have a long life together. See the world. Start a family.Together.

Their future literally was taken away because some asshole couldn’t keep his goddamn eyes open.