Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Deleting Precious Words

Here is the overview from the editorial letter from CreateSpace:

Where Love Once Lived was a very clean manuscript overall. There appeared to be some structural issues with the dialogue, but there were few errors in terms of grammar. I have never read any books in the Mitford series, but found your manuscript to be a heartwarming love story that appeals to both old and young alike. I especially liked the beginning of the manuscript, as it really grabbed the reader’s attention.

The letter goes on to identify problem areas and offer suggestions for changes. I found much of it to be helpful, but I couldn't get my mind off what the copyeditor said about the beginning of the manuscript and how it grabbed the reader's attention. Isn't that what all authors try to do? I remember my first version of Where Love Once Lived and its beginning. With the help of Bonnie, my teacher, and my classmates I finally learned to delete everything I'd written up to where the action begins.

It was hard to cut so many words, but I did. Well, to be honest, I saved them all. I have a Word document I call snippets that is probably as big as the final manuscript. It came in handy recently when the copyeditor suggested another scene would be helpful. Turns out it was a scene I'd cut based on another editor's suggestion. So, I polished it up and inserted it into the manuscript. But, back to the beginning of the manuscript. Here's what I ended up with:

Karen felt loved on Tuesdays.

She was fifty-three and divorced with a college-aged daughter at home who’d probably flee the nest soon, leaving Karen to live alone. She’d missed her chance for happiness. Still, she wasn’t sad. Teaching and her volunteer work as a lay minister, hospital chaplain, and member of her church choir fulfilled her. To be honest, she wanted more. She wanted the special kind of love she felt on Tuesdays.

She glanced at the clock on the wall as the familiar knock sounded. The third graders snapped to attention, turning their heads in unison toward the door. Today was the day. Every Tuesday about this time for the past six weeks, a fresh bouquet of flowers arrived. Karen opened the door and felt a rush of warmth when she realized today would be no exception.

Peeking around the blooms with his usual grin, his black curls poking out from under the well-worn blue cap that sat too far back on his head, the deliveryman thrust the vase toward her.

Does that grab your attention and make you want to read more? I hope so.

No comments:

Post a Comment