Sunday, 7 August 2011

The second draft

I’ve allowed For Better or Worse to rest for over a week, and feel quite good about it. In the second draft I ask myself if any words can be swapped in, or out, to make the story more immediate and evocative. This is what I came up with:

Martin regained consciousness while entering the MRI machine with a dull feeling his body was broken in many places. He tried to object to the scan but a tube down his throat turned his words into a series of gurgles. When he strained against the straps holding him firmly in place, a nurse jabbed him in the leg with a syringe. As his vision blurred, he saw 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.

Even though the story has less then than 100 words, I believe it contains the most important elements of a short story. It has:
-         a definite beginning, middle and end,
-         a main character faced with a life changing conflict,
-         something preventing Martin from achieving his goal of escaping with his secret intact (the straps, tube and sedative),
-         increasing pace and tension that leads to a rewarding climax,
-         a distinct and appropriate point of view told via a narrator who arrives late and leaves early.

Although, as usual, I’m not entirely happy with the voice. It feels a little stilted and long winded. This is apparently the hardest skill for writers to learn, and takes years of practice… I’m tackling this head on by studying hard, reading with sentence patterns and narrative voice in mind, and writing - a lot. My confidence is increasing with each story I write and by taking in all feedback.

Once again, I’d love to know what you think of the changes, both for and against, and hope you check back for the next draft.



Lucia Nardo said...

Hi Emanuel
I know that feeling of not being happy with the voice. I wonder if you can bring some urgency into the voice by breaking up the longer sentences into shorter, sharper ones. It might have the effect of building the tension ever more. Just a thought.

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks for the feedback Lucia.

At one point I ended the story with two fragments, but they made the prose feel clunky. Maybe they were the wrong fragments...

I'll have to go back to that draft and play around with the wording.

I've also been thinking about writing it in his wife's POV...


Mark Noce said...

Sounds cool, keep trucking along:) Also, I love the fish at the bottom of your blog, very neat:)

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks Mark.

I might let this story rest for another week or so before looking at it again. The time away should hopeflly allow me to draft it again with unbiased eyes.


Milo James Fowler said...

I agree with you: both on the piece's strong points and weak point -- the voice. Maybe "show" him regaining consciousness with action: opening his eyes. Also "show" him objecting with the gurgles up front.

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks for the suggestions Milo.

Hoping to draft it again in a couple of days, if the characters from my novel let me!


Anonymous said...

You don't learn voice, it's cultivated over time. Stop prevaricating about the bush - the hard yards get you where you want to go.

Emanuel Cachia said...

Thanks for the sagely advice.

So, you're saying that I should stop worrying about the voice and concentraig on writing more stories?

I'm sure you've said this to me a number of times Craig - ye who has over 120,000 words done for his novel. Get back to shaping that masterpiece of yours. And come up with a title so I can post it on my blog :)