Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Youthful Follies Of An Aspiring Writer or Practice Makes Perfect

I’m in a bit of a rut at the moment, work-in-progress-wise. I just can’t get motivated and feel like I need a break from it. So I’m taking one by reading through a book I wrote at least five years ago; a fantasy with kings, castles, warriors, dragons, swords and of course a quest to save the world by finding an ancient race in a land far far away.

I started out with the intent of just reading a story I’d enjoyed playing with very very much, but the editor in me reared her nit-picky head by the second sentence. I still love the story, but, boy, does it need editing!

From page two on I couldn’t take it anymore and let my inner editor do what she would. By now I’m on page 50 (out of 250) and have already shortened the manuscript by 2.000 words, mostly by eliminating what feels like a gazillion “and”s and “then”s. This automatically took care of a lot of run-on nonsense sentences, for example:

By stating his situation, his powerless stand as the monarch of Layn, which until this day nobody realised to be a fact, the King of Layn had put his life into Salym’s hands. Which was the reason why Salym had obeyed without another word, and at the same time the reason for him feeling as if he were betraying his king and queen by leaving them farther and farther behind.


Furthermore, the dialog is so unbelievably stilted it makes me howl in a mix of laughter and tears. The British lords of yore had not such affected articulation as the lowest peasant in my verbose epos. It seems the apostrophe was still an unknown phenomenon to me at the time. I could not, would not and did not use it, so the dialogue is tremendously stiff and formal even when close friends speak to each other:

“There is no point in singing quietly. I could not do it”, she said. She turned her head to look at Salym, saw his disappointment. “Believe me”, she said, with a sorry smile. “If it were not too dangerous, I would be singing my heart out. Right now, I wish to be able to sing more than anything.”

*facepalm* *headdesk* *chinfloor* *scalpscratch*

So this manuscript isn’t without challenges, but that is precisely why I love it. It shows me plainly I have learned a lot when it comes to sentence structure, dialogue, voice, tenses and self-editing in the past five years. It is proof that writing really does improve with practice.

(Heaven forbid! My parents were right all along: Practice makes perfect.)

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