Anatomy of an edit: Less might not be more, but sometimes it’s better

This week’s Flash Friday prompt inspiration was “Pilgrim’s Progress” and the Elements that were given almost wrote the story in my head… only with 100 words +/- 1.. I had my work cut out for me.

The first draft started out nicely:

Good and Evil walked together last night, down that long and winding road. They talked about the weather that spring— as the seasons did unfold.

It had a nice rhythm to it, and it hinted at something to come, that I wasn’t sure I could maintain let alone build on.  I got a few more bits,  but then what followed was a jumble of random phrases and pieces that were mangled to the point that it looked… like someone had taken my 200 word piece, cut them into words and phrases and dumped them on the table.

That someone, was of course, me.

They walked through the city of the damned, the devil the angel and me.
And though none of us knew where the trail would lead,

Old enemies make for loyal friends when they face a common foe

When I would have fallen, they balanced me, one on either side. Through the ashes and the cinders they guided my steps, though none of knew where the trail would lead.
They walked together and yet they were alone. For they both inside of me. You can blame the devil, or thank the angel but you’re the one who decides.

At this point, I gave up on word count for sifting through the mess and looking for gems to keep and pieces that would fit and organizing them.

Which gave me my actual first draft.  We’ll call what happened before my ‘notes.’

Good and Evil walked together last night, down that long and winding road. They talked about the weather that spring— as the seasons did unfold.
The dark and the light were illusions that night as the shadows hid in plain sight.
“The truth is a lie,” the first one said.
But the other rebuked him and laughed.
“The lie is a truth that some will believe, but a lie is a lie just the same.”
And so they walked neath the high walled keep: the devil, the angel and me.

It was a rather rough – rough draft and at 90 words, I had 9-11 words that had to be added in the polishing process.

Since I was working in Scrivener, I copied the document over and took snap shots of the story as it progressed (in case I lost something along the way that I’d find out I needed later. (I have mentioned how much I love Scrivener haven’t I?)

Good and Evil walked together last night, down that long and winding road. They talked about the weather that spring— as the seasons did unfold.

The dark and the light were illusions so bright that the shadows danced in plain sight.

“The truth is a lie,” the first one said.

But the other rebuked him and laughed.

“The lie is a truth that some will believe, but a lie is a lie just the same.”

And so they walked neath the high walled keep and the guards let them pass, ‘cause they couldn’t see that the devil and angel were me.

Okay, on this pass I played with the words – illusions that night, because illusions so bright (because I didn’t want to overuse night… and why hide if it’s bright… why not dance?)

I was still short in words so I tried to add a touch more, still keeping the phrase ‘the devil the angel and me,’ and that got me to 101 words.

This meant I had a rough draft, with a rough word count – and that’s where something interesting happened.  I started playing with syllables instead of just words because it had become poetic prose and I wanted to clean it up, keep the word count and not lose the momentum.

That’s where my attempts at a sonnet came in handy.

And so they walked neath the high walled keep and the guards let them pass, ‘cause they couldn’t see that the devil and angel were me.

Became

And so we walked neath the high walled keep, past the city of the damned.  Reports all say only one man passed: the devil,the angel and me.

26 words became 28… and I had to lose two words, but keep whatever syllables where there… not to mention the fact that the rhythm was a bit off in different places.

During one word count pass “long and winding road’ become ‘lonesome winding road’ dropping a word without loosing the syllable.

‘City of the damned’ became ‘Citadel of the damned’ because it was a neater rhythm and a cooler word… and I ended up with:

The Lonesome Road

Good and Evil walked together last night, down that lonesome winding road. They talked about the weather that spring— as the seasons did unfold.
The dark and the light were illusions so bright that the shadows danced all around.
“The truth is a lie,” the first one said, but the other rebuked him and laughed.
“The lie is a truth that some will believe, but a lie is a lie just the same.”
And so we walked neath the high walled keep, past the citadel of the damned.
Reports all say only one man passed: the devil,the angel and me.

Looking at it now, I might change some of the groupings because the lines look wrong grouped like that… but that’s a different exercise for another day…

This morning’s exercise was to take what I posted as a seed and see how it grew up.  Ultimately I think I prefer the shorter version… but I’ll let you decide which is better.  Does the long version mean more – or does it ruin the magic of the first version?

The Lonesome Road (Long Version)

Good and Evil walked together last night, down that lonesome winding road. They talked about the weather that spring— as the seasons did unfold.
The dark and the light were illusions so bright that the shadows danced all around.
“The truth is a lie,” the first one said, but the other rebuked him and laughed.
“The lie is a truth that some will believe, but a lie is a lie just the same.”
And so we walked neath the high walled keep, past the citadel of the damned.
Reports all say only one man passed: the devil, the angel and me.

Good and Evil walked side by side, past the river that flowed to the sea. They spoke of the world and the coming fall and whether the crops were good.
The dark and the light, the good and the bad; all fell to the scythe that year.
“The world is the word,” the second one said, but the other just shook his head.
“The world is the world, still some will believe that the world makes the word what it is.”
And so we walked past the high green fields, ‘mongst the harvesters that year.
Reports all say, only one man passed: the angel, the devil and me.

Good and Evil walked together that day, through the valley to the sea, we talked about the battle to come- as the harvesters reaped what’d they’d sown.
The dark and the light played games in mid-flight, as the arrows were loosed by the free.
“The people hear but they cannot see,” I said to the two by my side.
“They see what the want,” the others agreed. “But none truly see how it is.”
Together we walked through the iron wrought gate, and the guardians bid us come.
And so we walked together alone, the devil, the angel and me.

 

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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 Commentary, Editing, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Story, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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