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Never Say Never With A FINAL Novel Edit

What it is now:

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                   THE END

                                    26 03 2022


566pp     165,669 words

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What is was earlier this year:

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                              THE END

                                                 07 01 2022

595 pp.     174,838 words

The Marvel And Surprise Of A Severe Edit On A Novel Manuscript

I am about two thirds through editing my ‘five-years-to-write’ novel. It is called “There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth. I doubt I will get to keep my title.

I follow my characters, so I had no detailed plot. Thus, I can forget some of the details of something written two years ago.


Though editing brings most of it back.


And I might have known it at the time, but I am surprised that this particular chapter is a juncture to three major threads in the novel.

,
First, there are a number of different levels of the supernatural in the novel. They are distinct, and do not blend. In this chapter, three of these levels make an appearance.


Second, a major event from my main character’s childhood is revealed, explaining much of how she got to be the person she is.


And third, a decidedly unpleasant and mean character actually performs a positive deed.


That’s a lot of work for one chapter. I realized I had to make each of these threads stand out on their own. I remembered that I had worked and worked on it at the time, but not as successfully as I desired.


But this time.


My solution is to use number of three line paragraphs. Everything stands out. Nothing is cluttered

No confusion at all.

Killing All My Pretty Darlings As The Edit Gathers Steam

I am ripping my five-year-in-the-making novel apart in the edit. I do so love editing. Dialogue, descriptions, witty comments, all get turfed with abandon. They were great fun to write, but they don’t fit the novel now.

Don’t stop me before I kill again. **Mad Cackle**

The following is a brief example of what gets tossed asunder. My characters are visiting a Police Museum.

They leave the first room, cross the hall, and enter the second. Whereas most of the exhibits in the other room dealt with criminals and their crimes, here the displays concentrated on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there did not seem to be a definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set out in chronological order. There is some overlap, so not all are exact decade by decade. But most of the display segments do not stray by more than ten years, and are not forced into uniform-sized display footage.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in the contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

“Then we will miss the ship.”

The paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty-looking. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“That it does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“Well, I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“Yes. And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’d be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one.” Says Amanda, “And I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So’s my singing,” says Amanda.

Unbeknownst to them, as they have been chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opened near the display of uniforms on manikins. A stout yet still powerfully-built man steps though. He stands amidst the manikins for a minute, realizing that he has not been heard. He decides he had better announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And here is the edit.

They cross the hall and enter the second room. Here the displays concentrate on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there was no definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set in chronological order.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

The Paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“It does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’ll be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one,”says Amanda, “I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“Yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So is my singing,” says Amanda.

 As they were chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opens near the display of uniforms on mannequins. A stout, yet still powerfully-built, man steps through. He stands amidst the mannequins for a minute, realizing he has not been heard. He decides to announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

Alison Alexandra Attends A Party. & Starts A Novel. & Now I Gotta Edit Five Tears Worth

192771-131-00e5aa76

Alison Alexandra had asked her partner, with far more innocence than the result entailed, when people were going to pair off and head for the bedrooms. It was such a lackluster gathering she figured it would take quite a jolt to generate any interest.

And, she had asked her partner. It wasn’t as if she was angling for a tryst.

But, out of the blue – and out of other people’s boredom? – within twenty minutes or so, she had a woman sidle up to her. Drink in hand. Held at a professional tilt, though there was no raised pinky finger. Voice low, though not as low as the woman thought.

“Are you the one who asked if we are going to start to go to bed?”

Alison Alexandra, used to fine drink since her university days away, knew the lady’s finely-tilted glass was but a prop and barely touched. The scent of whiskey came solely from the glass. As for the lady herself, butter would freeze in her mouth.

“Is it making the rounds?”

“Do you want to make the rounds?”

“That was not my intent – no.”

“Then I don’t know if you are successful or not.”  The glass touches teeth. “Your question is making the rounds with alacrity.”

Alison Alexandra likes the word “alacrity”. It sounds like its own action.

“Have there been any answers?”

“Not to me.” There is a fleeting melt of the ice that is not in her glass. “Not that I’ve asked.”

“Have you made a head count?”

“I have not pointed and gone ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ – no.” The woman leans closer to Alison Alexandra, her lips now a conspiratorial distance from an ear. “But I do keep a select few in my vision.”

“Has there been movement?”

“There has been – if not corralling – some sidling up beside, with a ‘nicker’ into an attentive ear.”

“Anything for a pair of knickers, perhaps?”

The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.

“You are new here.”

“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.

“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”

“But you come up to me – with your observations.”

“In truth -”

The woman stops. She realizes how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.

“In truth, it is on a dare.”

“Someone has dared you to ask me?”

“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”

“To approach me?”

“Yes.”

“How much am I worth?”

The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”

“Good Scotch?”

“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that caliber of party.”

Alison Alexandra can see a friendship in the offing. So much more important than a partner for the night.

She takes the glass from the unprotesting woman and has a drink.

“Better than this?”

“Not even as good as.”

“Then no one is going to get me out of my knickers.” This does not stop Alison Alexandra from taking another drink. She hands the glass back to the woman. “There. I’ve had my limit.”

“That surely won’t get you into bed.”

“I’ve been looking around.” Alison Alexandra looks slowly around again. “Not even a bottle will accomplish that.”

The woman looks at her glass. It is still nearly full. She takes a deep drink.

“I am not so pure.”

“Oh – purity has nothing to do with it.” Alison Alexandra does take a bit of care with her next sentence. “But I am very picky.”

(image)  https://cdn.britannica.com/300×500/71/192771-131-00E5AA76.jpg

Turning One Thing Into Another: Flash Fiction Contest // The Icy Moons Of Jupiter

16644423011_dfba6b9eb7_b
An Icy Moon Of Jupiter.   Turned into 100 words
AS IS:
He is not a man for grand gestures.   The gift came as a surprise, the kiss a shock. He was embarrassed by the first and aroused by the second. Time, always a constant worry – not the futile minutes, hours, days, the whirlwind passage of months, but the disappearance of the now into the past -had again taken a bite out of his life before he had realized it was gone.

 “I thought you would like it.” she said, a gift somehow made more important because it was not planned, an obvious display of spontaneity. A chance meeting in a store on a Saturday afternoon. “I’m leaving soon, in two weeks I’ll be in France.” Eyes taking in his every reaction, her voice tinged with reproach. “Do you like it?”

And of course he did, but there were too many memories laced with half smiles jamming into his head, not painful in themselves but adding now to finality. The party where he met her, surely that was just last week, at the most a month ago. Surely it did not stretch back to soft Autumn nights.

“well, here,” she writes something. “It’s for you, you know.” A look of puzzlement crosses her face as the gift changes hands, the too brief touch of her fingers. he clutches it carefully, looks back to her eyes and imagines he sees a twinge of that nonexistent past. or does she only reflect what is in his own face?

And then the kiss.

So unexpected that he almost jumps back.

The touch of lips and warm breath, the smell of fresh, soft hair against his cheek. His own mouth open in surprise, her farewell brush of lips turned partially into passion. And then she is out the door, onto the street, and he is standing by a counter feeling very old, his heart an icy moon of Jupiter.

Ah, Christiane. Salut.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EDIT:


The gift comes as a surprise, the kiss a shock.

He is embarrassed by the first and aroused by the second.

“Do you like it?”

A gift made more important because of it’s spontaneity. A chance meeting in a store on a Saturday afternoon.


“I’m leaving soon. In two weeks I’ll be in France.”

Eyes take in his every reaction.

That party they met, surely it was just last week, Surely it did not stretch back to soft Autumn nights.


Then she is out the door.

He becomes very old, his heart an icy moon of Jupiter.


Ah, Christiane. Salut!

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