Monday, August 10, 2009

The Master's Wall, edited

Okay, the Track Changes feature won't show up on the posts, but the comments will. You'll just have to scroll to the end of the post to read them. Each one is numbered, so you'll know where they apply. (Coming back to this later: Next time, I'll put the comments right next to the text. It'll be much easier to follow that way.)

For replaced text, I bolded what should be deleted, and I wrote in red what should replace the deleted text. I colored the words green that are repetitious; I didn't even bother highlighting all the "David"s. And comments within the text are in purple. Confused yet?

We'll see how this goes. If this is too difficult to follow, please let me know and I'll find another method to show you what I mean.

Mind you, when editing for a client, I'm not quite so crass. This is simply to show all of you what doesn't work.

I'll let all of you study this, then we'll talk in detail about the problems found in this text and other manuscripts.

If you have any questions about why I made a particular change, please ask. That's what we're here for. Also, if something new or enlightening catches your eye, leave a comment. I won't know what to cover if you folks don't tell me what you need.


The Master's Wall, edited

Chapter One

Rome, 76 A.D.

David walked very quietly crept along the dark street. Those terrible soldiers had taken his parents. The soldiers had dragged them out of their [SGR1] home.

Now David was followed ing them. He wanted to know where the soldiers[SGR2] might take his parents. He felt like crying. He felt so scared. [SGR3]

He wondered [SGR4] if Maybe he could get help. The family friend, Manius, might be able to help. David knew [SGR5] Manius would know what to do.

Voices echoed through the dark street. David stopped in his tracks [SGR6] and pressed his back against the wall of a nearby apartment. He shivered with fear. He saw a shadow. A rat ran across the large stones through the empty street and David jumped.

David sighed with relief, [SGR7] then he slowly peaked [SGR8] around the wall. His whole body trembled and quivered as he gripped the brick wall of the apartment. That's when David saw [SGR9] that Three soldiers stood were standing[SGR10] over his parents in the small street.

One of the soldiers pushed Mamma forward. She tripped and fell against Abba who caught her, and she held on with her fists clung to his tunic. [SGR11] Abba helped her up and held her against him, but another soldier jerked them apart.

David felt [SGR12] very angry. He hated the way those soldiers were treating his parents. They acted like his parents were criminals, but they weren't.

David saw [SGR13] a soldier whip out chains and jingle them in front of Mamma's face, laughing[SGR14] . David could tell [SGR15] his mamma was scared of that mean soldier. But he didn't know [SGR16] what to do.

David heard [SGR17] the soldier chuckle as he knelt to bind Mamma's ankles, while another soldier held her arms securely behind her back. It hurt and she bit her lip to keep from screaming[SGR18] .

David hoped [SGR19] Abba would do something. Abba had to save Mamma. But now Abba's arms were bound behind his back.

David continued to watch [SGR20] as the soldier locked the shackles into place on Mamma's ankles. The bad man then ran his fingers up Mamma's leg, pulling her stola up to reveal her thigh. "Nice," the soldier said softly whispered. Normally, I'd say replace "said softly" with a stronger verb such as whispered. But we must also keep in mind that this whole scene is taking place in David's point of view. Would he be able to hear the soldier whisper? So, here's another change to consider: Why not cut the attribution completely and replace it with a beat of action? "Nice." The soldier hissed. --Doesn't that give you the chills? It does me!

"Let her go!" Abba screamed [SGR21] and pushed away from a soldier. "She has nothing to do with this!"

David watched [SGR22] the third soldier run over and hold Abba back. "Oh, really? That's not what we heard." He waved and pointed [SGR23] at the man touching Mamma. The he growled[SGR24] , "Aulus, shouldn't convicts pay the full penalty for their crimes?"

"Oh, yes," Aulus chuckled[SGR25] . He smiled and continued to touch Mamma, to touch her in places David had never seen Abba touch her. He touched her too much and he touched her [SGR26] everywhere.

Stop. David clenched his teeth. Stop it right now.

The mean, wicked, burly [SGR27] soldier's hands ran all over her. It scared her[SGR28] .

David knew [SGR29] someone had to stop him. But no one else was around to help, so he ran straight for the soldier. "Get away from her!"[SGR30]

[SGR1]"Who" is "their?" Clarify.

[SGR2]Watch for repetition.


[SGR4]We're in his head, so we know it's David "wondering."

[SGR5]No need for this. Again, we're in David's head, so we know that he's doing the "thinking." We call this a "gawking character."

[SGR6] Cliché.

[SGR7]Out of place. Why would he sigh with relief over a rat when he's afraid for his parents?

[SGR8]Misspelling. Should be peeked.

[SGR9]Gawking character.


[SGR11]Break this up. Some detail (with her fists) isn't needed. Let your readers fill in the blanks.



[SGR14]Who's laughing?



[SGR17]Gawking. Most gawking is simply "telling." Show. Don't tell.

[SGR18]Point of view jump. We're in David's head. How did we suddenly get here? We should stay in David's head.



[SGR21]Can't "scream" a statement.

[SGR22]Need I say more?

[SGR23]Can't he do one thing?

[SGR24]Can't "growl" a statement. Also, keep attributions consistent. And replace attributions with a beat of action.

[SGR25]Nope. Can't do that either.

[SGR26]Got a bit of repetition going on here.

[SGR27]Pick one. No need to apply so many adjectives.

[SGR28]Show. Also a POV jump.


[SGR30]Note in final draft the change in this line.


  1. Hi Sandi, I like what you are doing on your blog, this should be very helpful to everyone. Thanks for your comment on my site. I just became a follower and am looking forward to your posts.

  2. It's great to have you here, Janet. :-) I hope you learn a lot. Try going through the edit, and if you have any questions or insights, please post them. I'll cover details in a later post.

  3. Sandi,
    I loved your presentation the other day at Front Range Christian Fiction Writers on this subject. I went right home and started checking my own manuscript for unnecessary attributions. Thanks.