Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Back on track, and the first draft

It's been almost two weeks since I last looked at For Better or Worse. And what a busy two weeks it's been! The school holidays ended; a new short story demanded to be written and an older one drafted; I added more content to this blog and had to study for, and sit, two editing tests. All while doing my best to be an active parent and semi-social human being. No wonder so many writers turn into recluses!

Anyway, I haven’t stopped thinking about For Better or Worse with the excellent comments in mind. This is what we had:

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine, a dull feeling his body was broken in many places by the car accident. His wife peered through the observation window, oblivious to the chaos about to ensue. When he tried to voice an objection, a tube down his throat allowed only a gurgle. Straining against the restraints only earned him an injection of sedatives. As his vision faded, he realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.

I like the story, a lot, but feel it lacks drama and tension. A good story should allow the reader to experience the events and sympathise with the characters. I decided on the following:

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine with a dull feeling his body was broken in many places. A tube down his throat turned his objection into a gurgle. When he strained against the straps holding him firmly to the gurney, a nurse gave him an injection of sedatives. As his vision faded, he looked to his wife peering through the observation window, oblivious to the chaos about to ensue, and realised he could do nothing to prevent the examination from exposing his unearthly origin.

As you can see, I’ve dropped “from the car accident” as it’s irrelevant for such a short story, and added “with” to the first sentence to fix a possible grammatical error and make the words flow more smoothly, per Stingingthetail’s recommendation (thanks!).

I like Martin having a wife who doesn’t know about his secret, but the second sentence was too distant and may have been in her point of view. She is now mentioned as Martin would see her and moved mentioning her to the last sentence and toned it down to encourage re-reading.

I also like that a tube down his throat prevented him from voicing an objection, but it was telling rather than showing – something to avoid in fiction. Shortening the sentence should also downplay the reason for Martin’s objection, allow readers to draw their own conclusion.

I considered getting rid of “oblivious to the chaos about to ensue”, but feel it creates tension and intrigue by raising the questions ‘what chaos is about to ensue?’ and, ‘why doesn’t she know about it?’ This sets the reader up for the final sentence, designed to tie up the loose ends, give a little surprise twist and reason to read it again to get the full story, and, hopefully, read more of my work.

I saved this as FBOW-1 and hope to put it away for at least a week before applying the first coat of polish.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments, both for and against the changes.

Emanuel

4 comments:

Lucia Nardo said...

Hey Emmanuel
I like how you are so committed to your writing. It can be difficult with so many demands on your time. You are chipping away. It will hold you in good stead. Just thought I'd say that!

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks for the encouragement Lucia.

I guess being a writer is like any other job that requires balancing time at work with downtime, chores and socializing, with a few exceptions:

- the pay sucks
- there's no set roster
- or pay for overtime, time in liew, sick days, etc
- writer's block sucks!
- self discipline is a must
- distractions are everywhere
- not everyone sees writing as a job
- sitting for long periods hurts; and sucks!

Being a writer is certainly the most challenging occupation I've ever attempted, and the most rewarding!

I'm in for the long haul,
Emanuel

Merlene said...

Glad to see you're on track in the balancing act of life. The trick to juggling is to know when to pass and when to hold - actually I just made that up, but it sounds good.

Emanuel Cachia said...

Haha good one Merlene.

Isn't there a song about knowing when to hold them and when to fold them?