Saturday, July 11, 2009

Your turn!!! To edit!

Jami G generously donated a paragraph so that YOU GUYS could have a chance to edit. (Lucky you. :) So how about making suggestions in the comments, and when you all are done, I'll try too.

Jami said:

Here's one paragraph near the beginning of my WIP, but not the opening. Setup: Her husband, trying to figure out why POV character didn't sleep well the previous night, just asked if she's okay.

Faking another yawn, she covered her face with her hands to hide her cringe. Did she need more guilt by sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night? Just because of a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, and his command for her to ‘Come to me’? Um, no… Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

I chose this selection for two main reasons. 1) It has an unintended sentence fragment (i.e. the "Just because" phrase is not a fragment for stylistic reasons), but due to the voice of the character, I can't figure out another way to word it. 2) That same sentence fragment clues the reader into essential backstory that plays into the end of the chapter (the Inciting Incident) and I want to make sure this paragraph is clear.

Thanks for this opportunity!
Jami G.


So let's have a few brave souls who will make helpful suggestions on how to clarify, improve, tighten, revise, etc., this selection!

Just put your suggestions in comments for this post.
Alicia

33 comments:

Aerin said...

Faking another yawn, she covered her face with her hands to hide her cringe. Did she need more guilt by sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night? Just because of a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, and his command for her to ‘Come to me’? Um, no… Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

So, a couple of points:

1. If her husband is asking why she's tired, she wouldn't have to fake a yawn, would she?

2. I'm not uber-keen on the sentence fragment, even for stylistic reasons, because that bit ends with Daniel's dialogue; it's rough all around.

3. The Um..no and then response to her husband smoosh together and made things a little confusing. Was she saying uh-huh to hubby or to Daniel? (And maybe that's the point!)


Here's how I'd word it (and OBVIOUSLY I am not even close to any kind of professional)

A deep yawn usurped her urge to cringe. Covering her face with her hands, she wondered how much more guilt she could endure. Of course, the option was to tell her husband that she'd stared at the ceiling for hours because of a sexy dream about ex-boyfriend Daniel. "Come to me," dream-Daniel had said. Yeah, right.
"Uh huh," she mumbled through her hands, the best response she could offer.


Feel free to lambaste me or tell me I've totally looked at this wrong or whatever - or you can email me at aerinblogs AT aol DOT com.

frohock said...

I'll give it a shot, because I've had some of these same problems with fragments, etc. First, this was really hard to do without reading more of the manuscript, so I've got an even greater respect for Alicia's edits of our 4 sentences! ;-)

Jamie, I've probably completely lost the voice of your character, but a cringe (to me, anyway) is more of a full body movement, so that was the only major change. I hope this helps you and if it doesn't, I'm sure someone more competent than me will give you a hand.

Here's my revision:

She covered her face with her hands and faked another yawn to cover her guilt. It was bad enough that she’d stared at the ceiling half the night thinking about Daniel and his command, 'Come to me'. There wasn’t any need to double her guilt by sharing her dream about an ex-boyfriend with her husband.

Instead, she said, “Uh huh.”

I'm still not happy with it, but that's the best I can do with the TV blaring full blast and the hour. I'm sure you'll get better suggestions!

Good luck and thanks for the exercise, Alicia!

Teresa

Jami G. said...

Aerin,

Thanks for the comments (no lambasting here!). I just wanted to address two of your points in case you (or anyone else) has suggestions for how to make things clearer.

1. If her husband is asking why she's tired, she wouldn't have to fake a yawn, would she?
Her husband's question ("Are you okay?") is making her cringe because of guilt from dreaming about her ex-boyfriend. But she doesn't want him to notice her cringe, so she's faking a yawn so the cringe isn't interpreted by him as such, and so that she has an excuse to hide her face behind her hands.

3. The Um..no and then response to her husband smoosh together and made things a little confusing. Was she saying uh-huh to hubby or to Daniel? (And maybe that's the point!)
Yes, it is confusing. However, in my defense, I will say that in my WIP the Um, no... fragment is in italics (i.e. specifically internal dialogue - see below), but the blog formatting made everything italics so we lost that bit of differentiation. :) On the other hand, the "Uh, no..." fragment is her answer to her question about should she tell her husband. So your comment makes me wonder whether it's clear, or if the reader might think it's her answer to dream-Daniel's command. Also, based on one of Teresa's posts a few weeks ago, I've been experimenting with paragraphing. I originally had the "Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”" sentence as its own paragraph to separate them, but since it's a continuation of the same idea, it seemed like they belonged in the same paragraph.

Here's the original WIP formatting:
Faking another yawn, she covered her face with her hands to hide her cringe. Did she need more guilt by sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night? Just because of a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, and his command for her to ‘Come to me’? Um, no… Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

Please let me know if you have any other thoughts or suggestions,
Thanks!
Jami G.

Murphy said...

Did you call upon a few 'brave souls'? I think I'm among that group -- did ya see that whopper I posted in previous comments?:)

Couple of thoughts. I'm not sure that you can yawn and cringe at the same time. She would have to hear the question first which caused her to cringe and then quickly fake the yawn and bring her hands up to cover the yawn - not the cringe, because the yawn was supposed to be doing that, right?
You say: Did she need more guilt? I don't know, does she? You may have covered this in previous paragraphs but I'm kind of thinking that no one NEEDS more guilt especially over something like a dream that they can't control.
And, the only other thing I would mention is the word 'stupid'. I know that you are probably going with your character's voice here but stupid to me, implies something that holds/has little value and is easily dismissed and yet, over this dream she is feeling guilty - so, I would go with 'crazy' maybe?
I don’t think you can fiddle too much with this, as there is a good sense of character voice. My take on this character is that she is more relaxed and fun. I could see instead of the fragment, her mentally berating herself with: 'Crap, this was all she needed - more guilt over...' I could be wrong and if I am, I'd say shoot me but um, the line is so freaking long for that privilege you'd be better off just ignoring me.:D
Murphy

Deb Salisbury said...

My turn. :-) I'm trying to keep your voice, but lose the fragment.

Faking another yawn, she covered her face with her hands to hide her cringe. Did she need more guilt by sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night? Just because she'd had a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, and his command for her to ‘Come to me’? Um, no… Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

em said...

Murphy, no one wants to shoot you!:) Are you there?

Murphy said...

Hi Em!
I'm here. Did you have a look at this example? Do you have any ideas to add to this because you do know that Alicia is going to breeze in and make all kinds of sense, right?

And Jami G? When you get the italics thing on the blog posting worked out, could you email the 'how to' on that? PLEASE! I have font envy when I spy how some of the poster's make the font switch with reckless abandon!

em said...

After reading through the comments I think that the paragraph could me a bit more formal. I like frohock's doubling the guilt. it puts the guilt into proper perspective. That is what she is thinking. That if she tells her husband she'll feel even worse. In the original that wasn't very clear because she seemed more worried about herself. And the fragment didn't bother me:)

Jami G. said...

Hey Murphy,

In regards to your comment that you can't yawn and moan at the same time - agreed. :) But as I noted to Aerin, she's not really yawning. Hence the "faking a yawn" clause. Is it not clear that she's covering her face to hide her cringe and that she's just pretending to yawn to explain her hands in front of her face? Any suggestions for making it more clear? What about:

She cringed at his all-too-inconvenient insight. Before he could notice, she quickly faked a yawn, covering her face with her hands.

Regarding your suggestion of trying a different word for stupid, as you guessed, part of the reason for that word is her trying to convince herself that the dream meant nothing. Does that make the word a good choice or a bad choice?

And I think you're right about the "Did she need more guilt..." phrase. This is the first sentence in the scene mentioning guilt, so maybe it's too confusing with that wording. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Jami G.

Jami G. said...

Deb S.,

Gah! This is definitely one of those "I'm too close to it to see" moments. :)

Your solution to the fragment is so ridiculously, simply brilliant, I'm thwacking myself on the head. I'd have to reword the clause after the and a bit, but I can do that:

Just because she'd had a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, where he'd commanded her to ‘Come to me’?

Okay... That might still need some work.

Thanks!
Jami G.

Jami G. said...

frohock,

I see cringing as being either facial or body (whereas flinching is definitely more of the whole body). But yes, I see your point.

I did really like your "It was bad enough..." and "doubling guilt" sentences.

Thanks!
Jami G.

Deb Salisbury said...

I think I'd simplify it a little and drop the question mark.

Just because she'd had a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, where he'd commanded, ‘Come to me.’

I think the question mark confuses the issue.

Murphy said...

Hey, yawn and moan? I can do those two things at the same time. I think you're stuck back on my huge sentence.

Jami G. said...

Murphy,

You are so right. I can yawn and moan and even get one of those back-of-the-throat squeaks all at the same time. :) Now yawning and cringing, that's a different matter.

Jami G.

Murphy said...

You say: In regards to your comment that you can't yawn and (cringe) at the same time - agreed. I think the sequence of events is the issue, not what you are trying to accomplish. I get that she is faking the yawn - BUT, first in the order is her cringing - then she yawns to cover the cringe and her hands should cover her face in an attempt to cover the yawn that she is faking.

How about: She cringed at his perfectly innocent question. Before he noticed anything was amiss with her, she quickly faked a yawn and covered her face with her hands.

You say: Regarding your suggestion of trying a different word for stupid...I still think that crazy works - I somehow feel that it has more of an edge to it. I mean, if you go with stupid than we get the idea that this is not something (the prospect of Daniel) she will want to pursue but with crazy? It leaves the door open - even if she never walks through it. Just a thought.

For the guilt issue? I would go with interior monologue to introduce. Like: 'Right about now, she was feeling enough guilt over this, she didn’t need to add to that by...'


Murphy

Jami G. said...

Murphy,

Oh... "Perfectly innocent question" - I like it!

I don't mind using the word crazy, but later on, she describes the dream as "disturbing, but irrelevant". So, that seems more like the "stupid" attitude.

Also, since the "inciting incident" at the end of chapter one is that she does accidentally go to Daniel and he kills her, I'm not sure that I want to do something that foreshadows it in that way. Or maybe I should... Ugh - now I'm really overthinking this. :)

Of course, all these great suggestions are all adding word count to my already huge WIP. I can't win. *sigh*

Jami G.

Jami G. said...

Everyone,

Can I just say how helpful you all have been? Awesome, really. Of course, on the other hand, it makes me wonder how many problems my other paragraphs have. :)

So, taking many of your suggestions, here's what I'm currently playing with:

She cringed at his perfectly innocent question. Before he noticed, she quickly faked a yawn and covered her face with her hands. She certainly didn’t need more guilt by sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night. The dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, commanding her to ‘Come to me’ definitely wouldn’t sound good. Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

This gets rid of the confusing internal monologue vs. dialogue issue, the stupid vs. crazy, the participle timeline problem, etc. But it probably has a whole new set of problems. :)

Thanks!
Jami G.

Edittorrent said...

Jami, we're the ones who should be thanking you, because you donated the paragraph for everyone to learn on! Thanks!
Alicia

Leona said...

Wow, good job Jami! I don't know how you took all those suggestions and fixed it so quickly! My mind is still spinning over the line item edits done on my work. :)

Murphy hit on something my mind stayed stuck on even as I tried to assimilate the rest of your sentences.

Why fake a yawn then cringe? I think you handled it nicely. Good job.

Question to everyone... "stupid dream" was replaced with "dream" ... Here's the question - would "silly dream" give the connotations Jami was looking for without giving away the inciting incident? Or does it over simplify the meaning?

And can someone tell me whether the answer to her husband should be seperate line of dialogue to emphasize it or is it better at the end?

frohock said...

Jamie G,

Your new version is a lot cleaner and easier on the eyes! You maintained your charater's voice and got your point across.

Thanks for letting us help; that was fun!

Teresa

frohock said...

Apologies for my pre-caffine spelling errors, first of Jami's name and character does have a "c". OMG, I'm editing my own posts -- I think this is becoming addictive. ;-)

Teresa

Murphy said...

Well, I had to cut out early last night on account of the husband getting ready to pull the plug on my computer. Seriously, he thinks me having my work picked apart is fun! Go figure!

Jami:
You did a great job reworking this. It's cleaner and reads well. Alicia, as always (does this frustrate the shit out of anyone else besides me? ;D), is right. We should be thanking you for the opportunity. It was a lot of fun (for us) and as I have said before, you can't beat having fun and learning at the same time!

And Jami? I would point out here, there are a lot of smart people focusing in on how to find something wrong with the work that is presented so don't stress out about it. You want to see stress? Read the comment section under log lines dealing with mine. I was sweating so bad during the process I lost four pounds...humm, it's just occurred to me, that if I did this often enough I might be down a few sizes - of course I'd probably be bald from pulling my hair out - but heck, there's always a trade off, right?:)

Murphy

Babs said...

Murphy, LOL!

Jami G: I wish that I had been able to add something but I came too late to the party;(. I did enjoy reading the post and the following comments. Good work!

Now, I'm going to find Murphy's work. Em, said it was a biggie. I'm not surprised. I wouldn't expect anything less from that girl;).

Patience-please said...

Faking another yawn, she covered her face with her hands to hide her cringe. Did she need more guilt by sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night? Just because of a stupid dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, and his command for her to ‘Come to me’? Um, no… Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

She cringed, and then faked a yawn so that she could cover her face. She had no desire to add to the guilt she felt. She had stared at the ceiling for most of the night, torn by the stupid dream of her ex-boyfriend, Daniel. "Come to me," the dream Daniel had said.

She studied her hand.
"Uh-huh. Yup. I'm fine," she said.


Should 'she' reveal how she felt when Dream Daniel beckoned? Don't know if this helped any, but it was fun to try.


thanks-
Patience

Jami G. said...

Leona,

I don't know if you saw Teresa's post about 3 weeks ago with my question about paragraphing. Basically, I asked if dialogue should always start its own paragraph to emphasize it. She gave an excellent answer, pointing out that it depended on who your audience was - "readers" or "skimmers". I decided that I wrote for readers and therefore, I've been going through my WIP to clump ideas together. In other words, I'm letting the content dictate my paragraphs, not punctuation (if that makes sense). I'm still experimenting with the idea, but in many ways, I like it - it feels freeing.

Thanks!
Jami G.

Jami G. said...

frohock, Murphy, & Babs, (and everyone else)

Thanks for the thumbs up on the reworked version. I'm still not completely happy with it as I don't like the use of both "certainly" and "definitely" in the same paragraph. Yes, it's her voice, but it feels like an unintended echo (i.e. overkill). Any other suggestions?

In noticing that I only kept the dialogue line the same from one version to the other, it pounded home an idea that's been haunting me for some time. It often seems like it's easier to redo an entire paragraph or idea by going back to the point (the topic sentence or something) and starting from scratch than trying to edit the words that are there. I say haunting because I really don't want to feel that I need to rewrite my entire WIP other than the dialogue! But maybe for any paragraphs that we're having problems with, this may be the easier way to deal with the problems: hit the reset button on the paragraph and start over. :)

Thanks!
Jami G.

Jami G. said...

Patience-please,

Hmmm, your suggestion gave me an idea on how to get rid of that certainly/definitely problem I didn't like. Thanks!

She cringed at his perfectly innocent question. Before he noticed, she quickly faked another yawn and covered her face with her hands. Sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night would only add to her guilt. The dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, commanding her to ‘Come to me’ definitely wouldn’t sound good. Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

And to answer your question, she does reveal more about how the dream made her feel a few pages later. Since it's backstory, I didn't want to put in every detail right away and overwhelm the current events.

Jami G.

Splatter said...

Jami - I like this version much better. It gets the cause-and-effect in the right order (now she's cringing, *then* yawning).

The 'come to me' still feels odd, though - maybe pull that bit out of the sentence, and just say "The dream about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel definitely wouldn’t sound good."? You could then play with the rest of the line (the 'come to me' part) in another sentence? For instance, "she could still hear him commanding her, whispering 'come to me'..." or something - sorry, just playing with the idea a bit there :)

Jami G. said...

Splatter,

Ooo... That's good! I like it and it matches up much better with the Inciting Incident later.

Thanks!
Jami G.

Jami G. said...

Splatter & Everyone,

Hmmm, what do you think of this:

She cringed at his perfectly innocent question. Before he noticed, she quickly faked another yawn and covered her face with her hands. Sharing the reasons she’d stared at the ceiling for hours last night would only add to her guilt. It was bad enough that she’d dreamed about her ex-boyfriend, Daniel. Add in his command that had burrowed into her thoughts – ‘Come to me’ – and it would sound downright horrible. Instead, she offered, “Uh huh.”

Thanks!
Jami G.

Leona said...

OOOH I like this. One thing I noticed is it all flows together better. The "Uh huh" I couldn't quite reconcile before, fits nicely in your latest attempt.

I like the whole thing much better than the original.

(On Thursday, I will put my revisions up so everyone can bump my words around. I have dress rehearsal the next three days or would do it sooner:)

Weronika said...

Jami, I like the second one that you came up with. Sounds great!

Jami G. said...

Thanks again everyone for you suggestions and feedback! I like it much better now. I'm very curious to see what Alicia will come back with.

Thanks!
Jami G.