Tuesday, 20 July 2010

TRICKED – edited by the Muse

Some authors hate being edited, so the Muse apologises in advance for any unwanted glitter that might find its way into Alzrith’s story during this post. But as promised, here we go…

Normally, two levels of editing are done on a story before publication. The first involves rewriting parts of it, maybe cutting out a paragraph to speed things up, or adding a sentence or two to explain something in more detail. Usually at this stage, the editor will make suggestions and leave it up to the author to go away and do the rewrite. Otherwise the editor might end up putting some of their own style on the story, which would be very un-muselike!

With “Tricked”, the challenge was to continue from an opening paragraph set by BR Collins, which can be difficult because every author has his or her own style. Alzrith did this well with the line “I didn’t know why I said I was ready”. One thing the Muse noticed was that BR Collins’ opening uses the present tense, but Alzrith changed into the past tense – did anyone else notice this? The story still works fine, but this line could also have been written: “I don’t know why I say I am ready” or even "I don't know why I said I was ready." Which do you prefer?

Then we get some dialogue between Rachel and the hero, which explains the ghost story (the bloody white ladies) they have come to investigate. Dialogue to set a scene can be a good thing in a novel, but can often work better shrunk down into a paragraph of explanation for a short story - though there is some excellent dialogue here, so it would be a shame to lose it all!

The Muse will pick up the next level of editing at the end of the story. This is called copy-editing, and involves things like correcting punctuation and grammar but without removing the author’s own style. Often the best authors don’t use “correct” grammar and punctuation, so this is harder than it looks! Out of interest, I have also put Tricked into the present tense here so you can see how it might work – although a real copy-editor would not have dared to do this! I can only get away with it because I’m a unicorn.

TRICKED (last part, edited by the Muse)
The two ladies float lazily towards us, trapping us in the middle. Rachel lets out a short scream before she falls unconscious. I catch her in my arms, crouch, and close my eyes tightly…
Laughter floats in the air and reaches my ears. It isn’t the same laughter I expect from the ladies, after all, but mocking laughter I am sure I recognize.
I open my eyes to find the place where Rachel and I are standing lit with huge flashlights hanging above the low sturdy branches. The two ladies reveal the faces of none other than the class storytellers, Leo and Kevin, their dark wigs in their arms. They are suspended in midair by some ropes attached around their waists.
‘Did you see that? They almost believed it!’ Kevin says, laughing.
Then there are my classmates, too – probably the storytellers’ accomplices to set up this dreadful night – roaring with laughter.
‘How did you do that?’ I demand, annoyed. Rachel is still unconscious.
‘With help from the whole class, of course!’ replies Leo. ‘Especially from you two and some glow-in-the-dark costumes. Aw, you look really meant for each other, Lime!’
I blush but don’t let Rachel go from my embrace. The exhausting night continues until the next morning, when Mum decreases my usual allowance by almost seventy-five percent for catching my bed empty. Maybe this is the consequence I should have been worried about all along?

Thank you very much to Alzrith for offering up this story to the Muse. Young writers are always welcome to send in their stories or poems for feedback on this blog – see the link opposite for more details.

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