Tag Archives: had

Dragons of Wellsdeep – pages 10 & 11 edit

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg10_Dawn Blair

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg11_Dawn Blair


 

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg10_edited_Dawn Blair

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg11_edited_Dawn Blair

 

The drafts on top are the original manuscript pages as it has been written. On the bottom are my edit drafts with my handwritten comments.

When the writer gets confused about what’s going on, it’s not a good sign. I did have to ask myself why I had Moonhunter waste time reaching over the seat for Balthier unless he was checking to see if he was okay or maybe to hoist him back into the seat. You’ll notice that a lot of times I do ask myself questions when I’m editing and that’s to help spur my thinking. I’m throwing out suggestions to myself. I even do this when I’m editing for others to help stimulate their ideas.

I have been told repeatedly that I have an issue with dangling participles and modifiers. Even after 40 years of writing, I don’t claim to be great with grammar. These dangling thingies have made no sense to me for years. Then, my youngest son sat down and explained it to me using one of my stories. The light bulb went on. I saw it, I got it. Now I’m beginning to see it in my writing as you can see from the bottom of page 10. That’s a good sign that I’m learning. To keep this learning going, I now have to learn how to fix it and once I can do that I’ll begin to reprogram myself when I’m writing so that it’s automatic as I’m drafting. This might be a very long way for me to go, but I’ll get there. I use to be very heavy with the trigger words of “was” and “had,” but I’ve retaught myself. There’s a lot of times when I’m writing that I’ll recognize that a sentence will need to be rewritten and my brain will work faster than my fingers so it automatically comes out cleaned up. I know I will get to this point with dangling modifiers too, after I learn and train myself to fix them.

Page 11 looks like it was run over by a big truck and it’s bleeding out everywhere. The writing was not tight. There are things missing, mostly description and series of event issues. I can hear the audience screaming, “More, more, more!” That’s not a bad thing; I just have to work harder.

I will transcribe all my chicken scratches here here for you. The passage should read:

When his eyelids opened, his vision filled with the sharp clarity of dragonvision. A red veil magnified his attackers as though they were only meters in front of him. The three men standing on the ridge wore cloaks of tanned hide. The one in the white and black fur yelled at the other two men, who were having a hard time holding onto the large blaster…

It’s still not a perfect edit, but that’s how I have it suggested to read now. It gives me a starting point. Having something to work with is important. A description of their attackers probably should come much sooner than this and I’ll rewrite to have the description used as a pace controlling device (so much more on that later!). As I’ve said before, this really is a first draft and I’m discovering the story as I’m writing — I didn’t know about the dragonvision until this moment. Surprise! So, my challenge will be in weaving all these elements in so that the reader isn’t jarred while reading the story. This is working the craft. It takes time and patience. If you aren’t willing to work it to be your best with all the knowledge of your craft that you have at that given moment, then maybe you should stop. It’s like me with learning about the dangling modifiers — I didn’t know any better before, but now I do and I will fix forward. I want to write and publish the best stories I can and I hope I’m always improving. I hope you desire the same thing.

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Don’t forget about my Patreon page. Let other writers in your online and offline circles know about this blog so they can come get the help they need too. Let’s make better stories!

Happy writing!

The Dreaded Word: Had

Last week I wrote about how “was” was a trigger word for a  state of being. This time I’d like to write about another trigger word: “had”

“Had” represents something that happened in the past or a quality/state of being.

He had gone to the store. He’s already been to the store in the past outside of the present moment.

She had a way with words that made it hard to tell if she was lying or not. A quality that is viewed from an outside perspective, probably gained from prior experience.

Sometimes there is no way to get around “had.” In the first example of going to the store, it might just be important that he did stop at the store, but nothing that would move the story along happened there so it’s a quick phrase and move on. Now let’s take an example from page 8 of Dragons of Wellsdeep.

Balthier had scolded him often for getting ahead of himself. 

Obviously, Moonhunter is hearing a lecture in his head because he’s heard it many times before. But do you also see how the “had” makes the story be told rather than shown? This is an important fact, that Moonhunter has been scolded before for not staying present in the moment.

I wondered if there was a way to show that lecture in this very scene. Since it just started, it might mean expanding the scene a bit earlier than where I have it currently beginning. That wouldn’t be a bad option since I never explain exactly what they are doing in this scene and since I know that their “job” is something I still have in my head but I haven’t shown the reader.

My other choice is to show it in the scene before when Moonhunter first hatches from the dragon egg. It could be his first lecture. Either way works.

When you encounter a “had,” the first thing you should ask yourself is if there is a better way of showing this in the scene and if it’s even necessary. Is it important for the reader to know he had been at the store? Could he just walk through the door with bags in his hands?

Let’s take an example:

Col had never worn boots. In fact, until today, he had never wore footwear at all. Now the balls of his feet had thick blisters that stung when he touched them.  He had things cooking for dinner, but he didn’t think he could stand at the stove long enough to stir the pots.

Let’s pretend this is the first time the character makes an appearance in the story and it’s his point of view we’re in. Let’s make this present in the scene rather than full of flashbacks.

Col grabbed a stool and carried as he hobbled back to the stove. His feet throbbed from the blisters growing on the balls of his feet.  He ought to boil those foul boots along with his dinner. He sat down to stir the pots, then raised his foot to his lap to inspect the fluid-filled bumps which stung as he touched them. If wearing footwear resulted in this pain, today would be his first and last time for those boots.

We now know that he’s never worn boots before and probably will never again if he has his way — that takes care of the “had’s” in the first two sentences. We see him touching the blisters — “had” in the third sentence. We see him actually cooking dinner — “had” in the fourth sentence. Easy enough, right?

Let’s look at another example, one that follows more along with the quality or state of being.

Lady Bridget had on a red dress which reached all the way to the floor. Her hair had been done into coiled braided and adorned with little red teacup roses. She looked around the room once. Her eyes landed on Sir Arthur and her face lit with glee as she started over to him. Hadn’t she had enough of him already?

I’ve seen the first two sentences of that example written out by many authors as an attempt to show what the character is wearing. How often do you think about what you are wearing when you’re not looking in a mirror or someone is commenting you on your appearance? Yeah, not much. So why do authors insist on doing this? More on this topic later too.

I’ve clearly made this an outside perspective here because I want to use it as an example of such. Let’s make this better:

Lady Bridget entered the ballroom in a red dress which swept over the marble floor. It swished around as she stopped to look around the room. Little red teacup roses adorned the coiled braids of her brown hair. Her gaze landed on Sir Arthur and her face lit with glee as she started over to him. How would he crush her heart tonight? Why did the whole of the kingdom have to bear to watch it happen again?

Damn, I almost feel sorry for the narrator as he watches this stupid git throwing herself into pain’s way again. I’ll tell you, I had a hard time keeping it out of becoming a first person narrative, but that tells me how immediate it was in my mind as I was writing.

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Until next time, happy writing!

Dragons of Wellsdeep – pages 8 & 9 edit

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg8_Dawn BlairDragons of Wellsdeep_pg9_Dawn Blair


Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg8_edited_Dawn Blair

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg9_edited_Dawn Blair

The drafts on top are the original manuscript pages as it has been written. On the bottom are my edit drafts with my handwritten comments.

Let’s start off with the weird format issue at the top. When I prepared page 9, I realized that I was getting this issue sometimes when I pasted the page into a blank Word document. It is an issue that I need to watch for, but one created by my process for the blog, not one that’s actually in the original document. ]

That first line after the format issue really needs to be expanded. I can see my trigger word “had” in the sentence. Much like I discussed last week in my blog on “was” there are certain words that are triggers. I’ll discuss why “had” is a trigger words later this week. I wanted to get this page out there so I could use it as an example for that post.

Now, please note that I had a line of “he was reminiscing…” which I changed to “he reminisced…” See how that got rid of the “was”? I said I’d discuss some techniques for getting rid of “was” and this is one of them. Whenever you can, change that -ing verb to -ed and kill the was. There are times when you might want it to reflect a state of being and you would keep the -ing verb, but I find those very fleeting.

I like the “was” in the following sentence. This one could be cleared up easily by rewriting the sentence to “How exactly did one stay present in every moment?” It’s less wordy, but honestly I’m not sure I like it better. Being present is a state of being so the “was” might actually stay.

After that, I have so word clusters and other things to clean up along with a touch of research to do.  Page 9 also has some cleanup. I do also need to work on the intensity of this scene, but we’ll come back and use it as an example when I write my blog post on action scenes.

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Don’t forget about my Patreon page. Let other writers in your online and offline circles know about this blog so they can come get the help they need too. Let’s make better stories!

Happy writing!