SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED SOME DISTANCE

November 15, 2007 at 3:16 pm 2 comments

Yesterday, after going through OVERWORKED AND UNDERLAID and just fixing sentences that didn’t make sense, adding missing words, I realized I really don’t like the story. Not all of it, but some of it. Can’t quite put my finger on why. So sometime next month I’ll look it.

What am I going to do until then?

I’m going to revise PROTECTING DELLA, and then I SAID NEVER. I’ve already started on PD. I’m really liking the changes. These characters voices are ingrained into me and I now know how to fix the problems. There are a lot and I’m going to through the ms and tear the book apart, rewrite, revise, and rewrite some more. I’m not in love with the book anymore and I can do this without it being too painful or worrying about word count. (I’m sure the same will go for ISN) To show you what I mean I’m going to post the original first page. You’ll see the difference (copywritten blah,blah)

Chapter 1

Della woke up drenched in sweat. It was the same dream she’d been having for the past week. Murder. The word screamed loud in her head. Her temples seemed to pound with each racing heart beat. She squeezed her eyes shut but that didn’t help. The blood, there was so much of it in her dreams. Della rubbed her hands against her pajama bottoms to rid them of the sweat. Maybe if she could rationalize the vividness of the dreams she’d could write them off as nightmares. If she had watched scary movies all three nights in a row before she went to bed maybe her hands wouldn’t feel as shaky, her stomach contents a little more stable. But she couldn’t.

Never had she heard a glass of warm milk given someone night mares that make them think they were actually there. Della kicked back the damp covers and ran a hand over her thick ebony hair. What bothered her the most is that the blood had been a deep red and the slain woman’s face had been so clear. The nameless woman’s eyes had been a striking blue so far from her own brown ones that she couldn’t say that she had transposed herself into the woman. The woman’s thoughts and fears had just felt differently. Not the kind where she could predict what she would do and say if in the same situation, but what Della knew she would do. As if she had already done it. Strange as hell.

Della got up from the bed and headed to the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator she poured herself a glass of water. The crystal glass shook in her hands. The mundane comforting words it was just a dream didn’t cut it. She almost dropped the glass when the cell phone on her kitchen counter rung. Warily she picked it up. It could only be one person this late at night, her editor. “Yes.”
“Did the sirens wake you?”

“Sirens?”

“Not more than three blocks from your house there was a stabbing. Some domestic violence dispute. I was actually calling you to cover it.”

It was understandable that sirens in her neighborhood would wake her up. She lived just a step below what some would consider suburbia but not the type of area that witnessed a whole lot of crime. “A nice married couple?” Della asked not being able to hold the sarcasm from her voice. Angela her senior editor did live in suburbia and not the Wisteria lane type. The biggest scandal in her world being someone stealing a recipe. Unfortunately her empathy ran along the same shallow lines anything fitting less than her standards of a true crime didn’t translate into news; the reason the paper was doing so badly.

“Actually no.” Angela said. “An ex-husband from the early reports but I need you there to cover it. I’m finally taking your suggestions and shaking things up a bit.”

Her opinion of her editor went up a notch. Not wanting to question her good fortune Della asked for the address and in less than ten minutes later she was dressed.
Deciding it would be easier for a pedestrian to get by than a car, she hoofed it.

Turning down the first block she could see the reflection of the red and blue lights. She readjusted her coat absently checking for her pen and pad. When she made it to the corner her steps slowed though her heart raced. This was the street she saw in her dream. No wonder the all too familiar feeling had overwhelmed her. She passed this street at least two times a day. Still she couldn’t shake the feeling of deja vu. Pulling her press badge out of her pocket she clipped it on her coat in plain view.

You ask what’s wrong? Well, this isn’t where the story really starts. She doesn’t meet the hero for another 10 pages with this beginning. She’s busy interviewing the neighbors, interviewing the victim’s sister. I don’t see much charaterization. Who is this woman? Why is she having these strange dreams? You get very little info about her on the first two pages and if you did it’s drowned in unnesssary info. Get in, get out, and start the damn story already. There a million different ways to start a book but this is the wrong way for this book. I need to get to the heart of the story pronto, because the type of stories she reports isn’t important. Finding the killer is. Falling in love with Michael Goines is. She needs to realize her dreams are real much faster than the pace I was going in the very first draft. Here’s what I’ve changed and it’s better, not pefect. Note how different the voice sounds. Also as a side note I cut this first chapter of this story and started with the scene below. You’ve got to kill your darlings to serve the story.

Chapter 1

Della Sanders never thought she’d be a snitch, then again she wasn’t cut out to be someone’s, named Cookie of course, girlfriend while serving time in prison for obstructing justice. It hadn’t taken her long to decide after wrapping up an interview with a victim’s family member to head the police station.

Apparently, everyone had decided to be a good Samaritan today. The line to the plate glass window inched forward. She took the time to check her notes for the lead homicide detective’s name. The heater above her head blew out air a notch above hell. Della’s sweaty fingers stuck to the edges of the small notebook as she searched through the short hand.

She rolled her shoulders trying to get the image of Vicky, the suspect’s sister, out of her head, but that was to be expected. Car jackings, convenient store robberies, teens toilet papering houses made a blip on her conscience radar. Really, she could report those stories while asleep. The grief of a family member got her every time and this woman had lost both her brother and ex sister-in-law.

It wasn’t her job to feel sympathetic. She was supposed to report a story, she glanced up as the line moved again, and to snitch. Della flipped back in her notes and found the name a moment before it was her turn.“I need to talk to Detective Michael Goines.” The secretary eyed her i.d. badge with suspicion.

“If you want any information concerning a case the P.I.O. office is around this corner. Let me give you a visitor’s pass.”

“No,” Della said firmly. People like this she had to railroad or talk to really fast. Over the years she had learned no one, not the janitor, not the secretary, not the Starbucks guy in the cafeteria, liked reporters in the police headquarters. At least not in Norfolk. “I need to talk to the detective himself concerning some information I found out on a case.”

“The detective is standing behind you, so if you need to tell me something do so.” A deep baritone voice filled with authority said behind her.

And was he. Della pursed her lips. This was an xy chromosome, I do not wear pink, where’s my dinner, man. From his broad shoulders to his dark ebony skin 100 percent grade A testosterone.

Oh, you get so much more now. All within the first page and a half you’re getting characterization, you know what she does, you know where she lives, you know the type of stories she reports, you know her weak point (grief striken family members), and you see the hero through her eyes. The last one is most important, because Della doesn’t let herself see the hero as he is. First and foremost she sees him as a a cop. Which to her means unfeeling nincompoops. He’s just the sexy variety. Anyway, it shouldn’t take me long to gut this book and make it better. I’m giving myself until the end of the month. Then the first two weeks of December I’ll be editing ISN. After that back to OVERWORKED AND UNDERLAID. I am not starting another book until January. Or that’s at least what my mouth says.

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Entry filed under: revising.

DALLAS 2007 I GUESS I HAVE STATUS NOW

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bettye griffin  |  November 16, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Nice quality work, Mel. Incidentally, the color scheme fo your blog makes it a little difficult to read. I did think I saw a word or two missing, so I’d suggest you read through it again.

  • 2. Mel  |  November 16, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks, Bettye and I have words? 🙂 Outside of my missue of commas that’s my biggest sin.

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