Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jeanne's edit

Jeanne--
set up: she's looking at her reflection in the mirror and she is covered in blood, but only in the reflection

It dripped from her hair, weighing it down until it resembled a weeping willow. There was a jagged crimson line separating her head from her body. Blood trickled down from it forming red rivulets that merged with the innumerable cuts marring the porcelain perfection of her body. Some were long thick gashes created by hands hyped on the adrenaline of battle. Some where thin straight lines crafted with surgical precision. Some were symbols whose meanings had long since been lost.



It dripped from her hair, weighing it down until it resembled a weeping willow.

I thnk your difficult task here is to make clear (without being too obvious) that she's looking in a mirror, and the mirror image is different than reality. So let's be in her. She's looking in the mirror and sees blood. (You might have this already, but carry it through.)

You might have done this purposefully, or maybe you're just resonating to the centrality of the mirror motif in amplifying and contradicting the notion of identity and self. The "looking in the mirror" exercise is used, you know, to test consciousness-- that is, when does a baby realize that it's her image in the mirror-- it's not another real baby? (It's very amusing to do this with a cat-- he'll try to get behind the mirror to get at the other cat. Of course, being a cat, once he realizes he can't figure this out, he ignores the mirror in his lordly fashion.) The reversal of the image is also important. How long before we automatically scrub the smudge off our right cheek when we see the smudge on the left cheek in the mirror?

Anyway, as soon as we incorporate the idea that this is a reflection of us, we react by taking in the information about us. So if she's seeing her own image there, what's the first thing she's going to do? I think she's going to put her hand to her head, to make sure that it's not really bleeding. Then she might look at her hand-- no blood. Then back at the mirror, and then she would catalog the rest of what she sees.
It dripped from her hair, weighing it down until it resembled a weeping willow.

Watch your "it"-- use the noun when you can-- you've got three "its" here, and two of them are about hair, I presume, and one about blood. Use the noun:

The blood dripped from her hair, weighing it down until it resembled a weeping willow.

That "until it resembled" feels more clunky and "written" than the rest of the passage. How about:
The blood dripped from her hair, weighing it down like a weeping willow.
or till her head looked like a weeping willow? A bloody weeping willow? A willow is green, so you might say "red weeping willow" so we don't get the wrong idea!
There was a jagged crimson line separating her head from her body.

Where was the line? Across her throat? Again, she might touch her throat (and does her hand in the reflection go to its neck too?) and look at her hand again. Be in her body, and see through her eyes. What does her body do? She's not just a seeing machine-- her body is going to move instinctively.
Blood trickled down from it forming red rivulets that merged with the innumerable cuts marring the porcelain perfection of her body.

If she's naked, say it-- of her naked body.
Some were long thick gashes created by hands hyped on the adrenaline of battle.
Some what? Some of the cuts? Don't worry about being too long here-- length will help, I think, because you want this to be important.
Now "hands hyped on the adrenaline of battle"-- does she know that? Is she the one observing that? It seems sort of omniscient.

Some where thin straight lines crafted with surgical precision.
Proofread. :)

Some were symbols whose meanings had long since been lost.


Are you in her viewpoint? If so, does she know the meanings had been lost, or does she just not know what they mean?

I would suggest ending with something that is hers-- her thought or her movement. Don't lose her here. Now you might be going for something different-- maybe this is a common experience for her, to look in the mirror and see the future, maybe? No matter what, though. I think the sight of blood on your head and slashes in your body would be primal enough that it would be really hard not to react somehow. If she doesn't respond, make some point of that, that she's clinical, maybe?

Great idea!
Alicia

4 comments:

Leona said...

These are incredible. I loe all the story lines coming out in these line item edits. Having interesting story lines are a huge bonus to what is being offered to us readers, namely insight to how editors are looking at our work.

Thank you for this.

Jeannie... yowsers. I love paranormal and this sounds like a paranormal thriller may be in the works. Blood is so symbolic that symbols in blood seem to have power beyond the blood and the symbols, as I'm sure you know. Thanks for the gruesome insight to another wonderful sounding story.

sylvia said...

These are incredible.

I agree. It's like watching a skilled magician doing card tricks. I know all the moves but I could never put them to use this perfectly.

Reading the changes on these - especially on the excerpts that already intrigued me as posted - is such an eye-opener.

Glynis said...

I love the transformation you bring about in such small pieces. I always learn here.

The storyline sounds good too.

Jeanne Ryan said...

Thanks Alicia. The description felt flat and now I understand why. It's too passive and I've lost the character. Rather than just describe what she sees, I should describe it via her reaction. The paragraphs surrounding this one do and this is why it felt wrong.

Leona, thanks. It's very paranormal. Blood is very important throughout the book. (called The Mark of Abel) The various cuts she sees are how she died in past lives. She's not easy to kill.

Thanks Sylvia and Glynis. This is a lot of fun to write. One of my cp's called it "compelling yet disturbing."