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There is more to the world than meets the eye

Alright, I have survived three rounds of edits by three wonderfully sharp individuals for my first book Shadow’s Edge.  We are getting nearer and nearer to that terribly exciting moment of both nerves, joy and fear known as “the release date”.   Now that my editing vision has been seared by the light, what have I learned?

First, I am orbitally fixated.  Let me offer a translation.  I’m a pretty visual person.  When I write, my story is like a movie in my head most times.  I can stop the film, back it up, tweak it, and play again until it’s just the way I want it.  Unfortunately this means that I will use a great deal of visual detail in my book.  I never realized until it was pointed out to me, just how much I relied on looks to get emotions across.  The first strong advice I was given: Vary your emotional clues, there is more to a person’s reactions than their eyes.  Go out, people watch and make a list of body reactions which will clue a reader into a person’s emotional state.

So, being the dutiful writer I am, I headed my wise editor’s advice and took the day off to people watch. The sacrifices one has to make for art, I’m telling you, it’s horrific.  I found a table, plugged in my headphones to add the appropriate soundtrack and armed with pen and paper, began to document my experiences.  You know what? She was absolutely right, you can get emotion across with involving your eyes.

We have five (six if you think outside the box) senses: smell, hearing, vision, taste, touch (and intuitive). When I write I find myself sticking to one sort of sense, the changing of tones in people’s voices, using only their eyes to express themselves, etc. and forgetting there’s more to life than what meets the eye.  It’s the whole sensory experience that helps created mood, setting and draw you into a character’s life until it’s more interesting than the real world.

Here’s a re-write example.

The original was:

She could smell the metallic stink of fear rising from Eden, and she reveled in the dark joy killing this human would bring her. The whimpers escaping from Eden’s bloodless lips added a savage spark of satisfaction to Raine’s soul. She made quick work of the remaining two restraints.

With the doctor strapped to the table, Raine looked around the room. Spotting a number of syringes, loaded with some clear liquid, lying in the cooling unit and brought a small vicious smile to her face. 

While the table’s frightened occupant watched her every move, she walked around and took  one of the syringes out of the unit. She was sure her eyes were glowing with predatory delight as Eden’s breath noticeably  hitched.

 “Now what could this little syringe hold that scares you so much?” Raine’s voice was a purr of malice as she dragged a small backless chair over to Eden’s left side.

Sitting down, she noted Eden’s eyes never left the syringe in her hand. Making sure to keep the small instrument in clear view, she kept her voice calm and even. “Where shall we start, hmm?” She tapped the syringe lightly against her other palm.

The edited version:

She could smell the metallic stink of fear radiating from Eden, and she reveled in the satisfaction   killing this human would bring her. The whimpers escaping from Eden’s bloodless lips added a savage spark of glee to Raine’s soul as she made quick work of the remaining two restraints.

With Eden strapped to the table, Raine looked around the room. She spotted a number of syringes, loaded with some clear liquid, lying in the cooling unit and smiled viciously. 

While Eden’s terrified eyes followed her every move, Raine strode over and grabbed one of the syringes out of the unit. She knew her eyes glowed with predatory delight when Eden’s breath hitched.

Raine dragged a small, backless chair over to Eden’s left side. “Now what could this little syringe hold that scares you so much?” she asked, her voice a purr of malice .

Eden’s eyes never left the syringe.

Making sure to hold the small instrument in clear view, Raine kept her voice calm and even. “Where shall we start? Hmm?” She tapped the syringe lightly against her palm.

See how much better the edited version turned out? Change a few description and tenses and viola! Your readers are hooked.  And this is why editors rock, because they can see your words and shift them just that little bit to make them dazzle the reader’s eye. (Orbitally challenged! I already explained that!)

So for the next few blogs, I thought I’d be nice and share my growing pains with you, because what good is learning lessons if you can’t share the simplistic brilliance with others?

So next week we’ll fall into the debilitating pit of despair writers call “Show versus Tell”.

Until then…

Wicked

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