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bear by san

March 2017

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rengeek will and tilda

undimmed by human tears

More on the fine art of revising and editing, and sentence-level control of one's rhetoric and prose.



Before:

Every word like a blow, and yet he saw the logic of it. Logic that galled like a spur struck against his skin.

After:

Every word a blow, and yet the logic galled like a spur against his skin.



It's like bonsai.

You have to get rid of anything that might blur the line.

Comments

Re: You'd love Revising Prose

Oh?

Re: You'd love Revising Prose

What I mean is, I own a copy, but I haven't opened it in years. I remember it as an okay book on rhetoric and prosody.

Am I forgetting something?

Re: You'd love Revising Prose

Aha! I get it by contagion from Kipling, who used to go over his drafts with a camelhair brush and a bottle of India ink, blotting words.
*snrch*

*adores*
I suppose I could have gotten "against his skin" out, too, but those aren't needless words.
Exactly. The skin is needful there.

This is very like working on good poetry.
I realize this is out of context, but I don't understand the second one. Perhaps it's the word "yet."

In the first version, I don't know who is using words like blows, but I do see the protagonist understands why it must be done. And that very knowledge (because, I would extrapolate, it is inescapable) galls him.

Alternatively, the "logic" may not refer to the reasoning that determines why someone has to be raked over the coals, but the logic of the words being spoken, i.e., the argument itself (a subtle difference, but real).

In any case, I can follow it. In the second version, every word is a blow -- so evidently whatever someone is saying hurts -- and yet the logic galls. For that to make sense to me, I would either need to take out the word "yet" (if the "logic" refers to the reason why someone's getting verbally savaged) or add the words "it was," i.e., "Every word a blow, and yet it was the logic [of the argument] that galled like a spur against his skin."

(Though I don't know I like the attempt I've made; surely the logic hurting and the words hurting (because they are all too logical) are pretty nearly the same phenomenon. Though I suppose one might be making a distinction between insulting words and the pain of the truth -- i.e., "You utter moron with the brainpan of a cockroach, here's how you just destroyed the Earth." In that case, the pain of the knowledge would gall more than the aggressive phrasing.)

I am massively handicapped by having no idea of what the situation is, or what you were going for.
*g* I'm not actually looking for feedback, rather demonstrating technique, but thank you.
No offense meant. I was actually responding on the level of revision technique; I would not presume to give personal feedback on material itself unasked, or indeed at all when I know so little of the material.

I suppose I should explain so I don't look like a complete dork. I often work with scripts, where there are many, many, many revisions, based on notes from many people, and the most frequent problem that comes up is when original intent vanishes in that revision process; writers and note-givers can't see it's gone, because they read with that intent still shining in their minds. Sometimes, though, it's just a mirage. I didn't know if that had happened here or not, and wondered if you'd want a heads-up so you could choose a different example of technique. (Though I did think there was also a good chance you'd point out I'd missed the obvious and I'd blush.)

Forgive me for the long explanation -- I just didn't want you to think I was diving in to give unasked notes on your writing! Anyway, I enjoy your journal, though I rarely do more than lurk ungraciously, and I'm going away now.
Well, no, I try not to tell readers that they read something wrong. *g*

I consider it Bad Behavior.
Good demonstration, thanks. It is very neat.

(Oh, hi. I'm a lurker. I really enjoy your posts on writing. And your other posts as well, actually. Thank you!)
Hi! Nice to meet you!
"You have to get rid of anything that might blur the line."

I'm writing that down. It's going up on my writing board as something to remember every day - just as soon as I get a writing board hung on the wall.
I used to have a white board.

I miss it terribly.
It's like bonsai.

You have to get rid of anything that might blur the line.


Yes, absolutely. I got this revelation only because I was *forced* to prune to length for a reading slot. It feels like taking way too much off, but in fact it creates a perfect form in miniature. :)
I got this revelation only because I was *forced* to prune to length for a reading slot. It feels like taking way too much off, but in fact it creates a perfect form in miniature.

I learned through the forced method too, and it was wonderful and terrifying and truly cool all at the same time: I got to watch my editor (Heather Henderson, now gone, alas, and sorely missed) take my feature article and cut forty percent out of it. It was an education in itself, and one of the most magical learning times I've ever been privileged to have.
Hee.

I think I just get lazier with every book, and want to do it in fewer words.

Eventually I will be writing ten word novels.
I think it's fantastic that you're showing this level of concern about the sentence--without arrogance or shame (both infamous writers' follies). We may not always be on the same page, but that's because we're different writers, which is the way it should be. Rock on, Bear.
;-) Indeed. If we were on the same page, we'd confuse each other terribly.
My kids used to give me papers they were writing for editorial review. I'd strike out and tighten up everything and then they'd complain because with my deletions, the paper would no longer be the required N pages long.

Stupidest thing ever, requiring school papers meet or exceed a certain length. I always was proud when I'd get a good grade on a paper that was shorter than the minimum page length.

I used to do reviews for Alternative Press magazine, where every review had to be between 90 and 100 words. I'd always write a first draft and end up with 250 words, and then go back and cut. Some of them began sounding very Haiku.
Oi. I HATE THAT.
I did! I was boooored with the green. *g*
To write is human.

To revise is divine.

This from a reviser in the midst of much revisement. So much so that I think now I am not an aspiring writer but an aspiring re-writer.
How would he know what a spur against the skins feels like...
*Oh*
You kinky-fic writer :P :P