Work It #14 from A Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld
Chapter 14: Relish Revision
Choose a scene or a chapter or a paragraph that is in the first-draft stage (or write a fresh one). You’re going to do three drafts (it’s okay if you break this up over several days). Follow these steps.
- Make sure all the elements of a scene are included: The character has an obvious, consistent point of view; your sensory descriptions and imagery show setting and emotion; the action creates a sense of real-time movement and/or dialogue, and a plot goal is present, some piece of which is apparent in this scene.
- Cut all flabby, extraneous language, such as adverbs, adjectives, “telling” language, and pleasantries between characters. Hone your sentences. Strive for clarity and beauty.
- Add a “push-pull” energyof tension to any dialogue or interaction between characters.
Today, I’m going to just share my paragraph that’s in its first-draft stage.
I’ve had a hell of a day. By 8:00 this morning I was struggling to hold my eyes open, fighting abject exhaustion and trying to focus on what the physical therapist was saying about my husband’s grandmother’s rehabilitation exercises. I know it sounds kind of bad, but the harder I tried to focus, the more I caught myself nodding off after a long, sleepless night.
Our black and tan coonhounds Bear and Bryant paced, bayed, and howled all night, as if there were a prowler in the yard, but every time we looked, we couldn’t see a damn thing. The dogs finally got quiet some time between 3:45 and 4:15, and then we heard a nerve-shattering crash out in the shop.
By the time we made it out there, whatever knocked our shelf of tools and racecar parts over was gone. The shelf busted the Lexan back window out of my husband’s ’67 Camaro drag car. It gouged the crimson paint job in a couple places, and left dents in a couple more, and that was a damn bad way to start the day. The Camaro is my husband’s baby.
So, we got two hours of sleep, and he had to go to work, and I had to drag my exhausted ass to Mobile with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to learn how to properly do rehab for Granny. I tried to push through and stay awake, but my body at 26 just can’t bounce back from lack of sleep like it could when I was 16.
Then I got jarred out of my dozing off by my husband’s ringtone. “Hello?”
“Babe…I know you’re at the hospital with Granny, but I just wanted to call and let you know that my truck burned to the ground today while I was away at a job site.”
“WHAT?! Oh my GOD! How the hell did that happen?!”
“Cops say it looks like a Malitov cocktail started the blaze. Everything that was in the truck is gone…burned completely up. My granddaddy’s truck, and some sorry excuse for a human being burned it to the ground. I don’t know who’d do something like that, but they better pray I don’t get my hands on their sorry ass is all I can say.”
He may not have known…but I sure did.