Flash Friday #47 – Anatomy of an edit

It’s rare when you write something at 03:00 and like it, it’s really rare when you really don’t like it and a minor tweak can turn it around…

I’ve been really tired lately so staying up ’til midnight to catch the prompt as it is posted is pretty much out of the question, but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately means it’s not unusual to wake up in the middle of the night.

I saw the prompt at about 02:30, and by 03:15 I had my rough draft within the word count.  I just didn’t like the ending…

This meant that I left the writing, and the prompt alone until I’d gone back to sleep, did some online training and finished out my work week, all the while being haunted by the image:

When the Clouds Roll By – (1919). Public Domain

and the story that had let me down.

Since I started participating in Flash!Friday, I haven’t missed an entry yet.  Yes, I’ve had some that fell flat or lacked well… luster.  I was beginning to wonder if this would be the one I missed.

I mean… I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, with means a month of non-stop frenzy on one, count it one story. 50,000 words.  While I debated, I went through my email, and found my father had send me some links to the movie in question.

I decided to take a look at what I’d written and see what I could do with it… I mean, the first part wasn’t *bad*… it just wasn’t… catchy.  So I reviewed the semi polished first draft:

If Doctor Flemmerstein could have wept, he would have.

It was the third time he tried to explain his plan to his assistant, and each time Clyde seemed to step further and further away from the plan.

He let out a sigh and began again.

“If I apply pressure here,” he said tapping just behind the man’s left temple. “And here…” He added tapping just behind his left temple.

“And stimulate the Temporal Lobes…” he continued inwardly cringing as he imagined the next interruption by the man.

“Then I will become unstuck in time?”

Doctor Flemmerstein sighed, his shoulders drooping. “It will stimulate your long-term memory, and perhaps increase your ability to process auditory signals…”

“So… no time travel?”

“Not this week Clyde. Not this week.”

When his assistant finally nodded he continued. “This should increase the flow of blood to not only the Temporal Lobe, but to the Occipital Lobes and the Parietal Lobes in turn, stimulating not only your visual perception, but also your tactile perception and your cognitive understanding.”

When Clyde said nothing, Doctor Flemmerstein relaxed. “Tomorrow we begin.”

That evening Clyde recorded the meeting in his report. “I don’t think he killed Clyde on purpose. He was trying to make him better.”

Unexpected ending… check, 195-205 words: check,  something to write home about? : not really.

That evening “Clyde” recorded the meeting in his report. “Suspect did not intentionally kill assistant. ESP experiment Failed.”

The next edit focused on the ending.  It brought ESP into it… it gave you a slight twist but- let’s face it, after “Madame Bartholomew’s Bed and Breakfast for the Criminally Insane” you kind of expect that ending.

So… It was almost 20:00 when I sat down and re-read the story.  The beginning and middle were solid and I realized if I tweaked that a little to give me more than 6-10 words for the ending, I could pull a Pinky and the Brain ending out of the imaginary hat.

Half an hour later, I had it (and passed it to my folks for a quick proofread since I’m notorious for double words and skipped words and reading what I meant… and my dad pointed out that I’d put the left lobe in twice.  A quick edit and away I went to Flash!Friday, to submit:

 One Lobe or Two?

Doctor Flemmerstein fought the urge to scream.

It was the third time he had tried to explain his plan to his assistant, and Clyde seemed even more clue resistant than he had during the first attempt.

He sighed, and began again.

“If I apply pressure here,” he said tapping just behind the man’s left temple.

“And here…” He added pointing to his right. “And stimulate the Temporal Lobes…”

He paused, waiting for Clyde’s response

“Then I’ll become unstuck in time?”

Doctor Flemmerstein sighed, his shoulders drooping. “It will stimulate your long-term memory, and increase your ability to process auditory signals…”

“So… no time travel?”

“Not this week Clyde.”

Despite himself, the doctor chuckled at Clyde’s relieved smile.

When his assistant finally nodded, he continued. “This should increase the flow of blood to not only the Temporal Lobes, but to the Occipital and Parietal Lobes in turn, stimulating not only your visual and tactile perception, but also your cognitive understanding.”

When Clyde nodded slowly the Doctor sighed. “Yes?”

His assistant studied the equipment for a moment, and finally asked, “wouldn’t it be easier to just buy a smaller hat?:

Dr. Flemmerstein smiled, “but where’s the fun in that?”

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About mtdecker

Just your average writer- which is to say, I have a full-time job developing and testing software.
This entry was posted in Editing, Flash Fiction, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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