“I wonder how the story can improve from this each week,” said Snow Melts Somewhere last week when I posted my story for the Writer’s Workshop at Go Dog Go Café. Isn’t this the sweetest? This week I tried doing it anyway. Have a look.
W – W
r — o
i — r
t — k
e — s
r — h
‘ — o
s — p
“Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”
This was the advice that Stephen King got from his editor in high school. He remembers the advice but does’t give the name of the editor? Hmm.
This is exactly what we were to do the second week of the workshop: lose ten percent of our puffiness. At first I’d thought it would be hard but it wasn’t really: I just had to remove 30 words since originally I had 300.
I also spotted one -s missing for the third person, I switched something around, lost some fluff and liked it much better already. As the last one I removed an important word in the last sentence, but I think it carries a better punch this way.
The advice stands then. Just too bad that we are not given the name of the editor. I like to go straight to the source.
Here is my second draft for this week. For the original puffiness go to week 1.
Clip cloppity clop
I am lulled to sleep by Father clicking away next door. It’s his work, he is a journalist. The world lives in the breath between clip and clop and everything is possible. It’s the seventies.
I’m in primary school and already on a deadline. Father’s old typewriter is on my desk. Clip cloppity clop. I type just to make myself heard, over the noise of Duran Duran. It’s the eighties.
Twenty pages on classical music, the teacher said. It’s the last day. I like to… what’s the word… oh yes, procrastinate.
I ask Father for some paper. Not many sheets left.
We count twenty.
No room for mistakes then.
I have a general idea and books lying around with bits of paper indicating useful passages.
I do not measure even once. I do not start and hope for the best. I start, knowing: this will be the best cut. It’s the only option.
I’m in high school, but for our household a computer is still many years removed. One class is called Typewriting and we type on ancient machines. Clip cloppity clop. All fingers do the former work of two. It’s 1984.
The novelty hits me on the head with its simplicity. Right, so now I can move paragraphs around! I can always insert a thought later, and print it out only once everything is perfect! It’s the nineties, and I discover my first word processor.
Typing as fast as I’m thinking, clip clippity clip, on my slick and only slightly noisy keyboard, I’m grateful for the lesson. It’s now, and I know the perfect cut.
In photos: The ruins of San Bruzio monastery near Magliano in Toscana.