The secret to writing good fiction with health warnings

It is no secret, but let me illustrate by showing an example of writing and my thinking behind my changes. Here is the opening to my work in progress, “I went to work worried I would be fired, was elated when told I still had my job, but a chill ran down on my back when I went to my office and saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his head resting on my desk in a pool of blood. And this on the day I had to go to Clara Bow’s birthday party. Some days just don’t fit in a normal life.”

I like the opening as it quickly shows a characters concern over being fired to shock at finding a corpse at his desk. The part about Clara Bow is indicative of my style of humor. He actually has to go the party. But it also brings time and place into the beginning of the story. In addition when the character goes from worry to elation to shock in a short time and be going to Clara’s birthday, it really is not a normal day.

Bur could I improve the paragraph? This is actually my second rewrite of it. A few months ago I showed my changes in  this blog. The best thing a writer can do is put the writing away, forget about it, do some other writing, then return. Yes I can improve on the 2nd rewrite.

How, you ask?

Thank you for the question. Here is the answer.

“A chill ran down my back” is a borderline cliché. So I get out Rodale’s “Synonym Finder.” I check under run, because ran is not listed. After a couple of minutes of checking other words I settle on quivered, but then I rethink and use the word shivered. “A chill shivered down my back”  I like better because “a chill will shiver, will it not? but it also borders on being too cute a phrase. But for the time I will keep it.

“…saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his head resting in a pool of blood is okay, it works, but can I make it more visual, more of an impact to the reader? It is rather blah. So I change it to, “. . . saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his arms hanging down towards the floor,” Stop. Stop. Stop. How are they hanging? How about limply hanging. And why do I need ‘down towards the floor?’

I start again. “… saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his arms limply hanging towards the floor, his head reposed on my desk in a pool of blood, one eye closed, the other vacantly staring at me.” I first had blankly then changed to vacantly, I like it better.

The new opening is: “I went to work worried I would be fired, was elated when told I still had my job, but a chill shivered down on my back when I went to my office and saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his arms limply hanging towards the floor, his head reposed on my desk in a pool of blood, one eye closed, the other vacantly staring at me. My emotions went from worried to elation to shock and this on the day I had to go to Clara Bow’s birthday party. Some days just don’t fit in a normal life.”

I don’t know if I am finished. Perhaps ‘reposed’ should be changed. The point is that the key to writing is rewriting, and then rewriting, always searching for the best word, the best sentence. It is a pain in my caboose, a pain that can cause anal fissure, perhaps even hemorrhoids, or other problems sitting on your caboose rewriting and rewriting. It can also lead to insanity as you are never satisfied. But you must rewrite and that is the secret. Beware the dangers though. If you feel your caboose start to itch, you have worked to long, so give yourself a treat.

My e-books: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under dalies, e-book publishing, humor, Uncategorized, writing

One response to “The secret to writing good fiction with health warnings

  1. As usual, very well written, along with excellent advice. My writerly problem is that I spend too writing time, revising! This drives me quite batty! I need to stop myself from doing this, so I can, at least, write out the piece I intend to write–then, revise, later, maybe.

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