Monday, March 3, 2014

Story nips and tucks

Speaking of cutting, did you know
scissors have terminology? Check out
All About Scissors.
I've always wished for more writers to publish their story drafts, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is, and posting a marked-up excerpt of Still Life With Tampon, a story of mine in Story Chord. This draft was pared down and improved by Story Chord guest editor, Erika Swyler--thanks, Erika, for letting me share your changes! I was delighted with how many smart trims she made, including cutting several filler words and phrases that didn't add much value, and removing some lines of dialog that dragged the pace and were a little over-explainy. And um, spoiler alert--this comes from one of the final scenes, so if you would like to read the entire thing and then compare, do that first!

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"But I've been painting feathers."

Your mother laughs, as if satisfied by this information. "Well, there you are, Dawn. You can't go around painting other people's Muses. No wonder you've been so miserable--you've gotten your signals crossed."

This silences you. Perhaps all of this isn't so crazy. You've long sensed that you've been thrown off by your mother's path, but it never occurred to you that you'd been dragging her behind you, like a trail of toilet paper, into your canvases.

"But still," you say. "How can a tampon--a used tampon--"

"Sweetheart." Your mother hasn't used this term in ages, and her voice is at once patient and firm. "We cannot judge what we're given to work with. It's only for us to follow the path we've been given."

"If it's as simple as that, then how come you never told me about all of this?"

"Because it's not simple. A Muse only comes when you're in your darkest hour and you least want it and then you have no choice."

And with that, she stands up again. The click of her heels, like her voice, is measured and resolved.

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