Um, wow. How do I follow up a blogpost like last week's? Thanks so much, everyone, for your enthusiastic congratulations and well-wishes on my agent acquiring notice. This week I've started to plow through my revisions, rethinking characters and scenes and gasp--even the beginning page of the novel. So far I'm happy with my tweakings and slashings. I'm not a writer who detests revising/editing, so all is well. (Don't tell anyone, but I'm actually having fun doing it.)
Less stupendous but still important and delightful news:
1. I passed 300 followers! Welcome to the blog, all my new cyberbuddies.
2. Since mid-March, I've received FIVE new blog awards. Many thanks to the following people (visit their sites via their names/award icons on my sidebar):
One Lovely Blog Award from Michelle Merrill
Powerful Woman Writer Award from Tyrean Martinson
From Me to You Award from PK Hrezo
Encouraging Blogger Award from Lindsay Currie
Versatile Blogger Award from Carolyn Arnold
And now, for the writer tip part of my post: a story beginning makeover.
If you're an old follower experiencing deja vu, it's because I used a longer version of this post last year (what can I say? I'm busy revising for my lovely agent).
She had arrived for the summer.
Jane Brownwell looked around crossly, putting her suitcase down. Here she was at last after a long hot bus ride, and Aunt's May's house looked really boring. Across from the dining room window was a table, round and plain. Faded doilies were placed across the top of the couch. Another doily was spread out under a collection of flowers in a vase, on the coffee table. Most of the flowers in the vase were wilted and droopy. The couch was a mess, all saggy and stained with tea.
It was horrible! How was she expected to stay here for an entire summer?
This passage introduces conflict, albeit the overused theme of arriving somewhere new for the summer and hating it. However, it could be written a lot more colorful and interesting. I'd change Jane's name to something more current and interesting. I'd omit adverbs and replace weak "was" verbs with more vibrant/active verbs. Otherwise, the reader will be as bored as Jane by the description of her surroundings.
She had arrived for the summer.
Lacey Brownwell dropped her suitcase with a thump, and glared at the inside of Aunt May's house. BO-ring. Not much to look at, and certainly not worth the sweaty eight-hour bus ride getting here. A plain round table stood across from the dining room window, while faded doilies draped themselves like limp and bedraggled butterflies across the back of a tea-stained couch. The vase of flowers on the coffee table pinned yet another sad doily to the coffee table. The flowers drooped, wilted beyond recognition.
Horrible. Her mother expected her to stay here for an entire summer?
More active sentences used here; the subjects are doing the actions--the table stands, the doilies drape, etc. I added specific details, like an 8-hour bus ride versus a long one, and a sweaty bus ride versus a hot one. A bit more voice added, too.
The doilies also serve as a narrative interpretation of how Lacey is feeling or viewing her new surroundings (limp, pinned to her circumstances). Narration can be a filter through which the setting is viewed through the main character's eyes.
And the changes didn't affect the word count much. The first example was 108 words, the second 103--using basically the same information, just assembled differently.
Do you enjoy revising or do you HATE it? A necessary evil, like grocery shopping?
Do you lapse into "was" and "were" verbs when you describe characters & places?
Have you ever written a story where the main character arrives somewhere new for the summer? (I have.)