So….today I thought I’d post a short story that inspired one of the characters in my current WIP. (Can’t tell you which one…though it’s obvious at the end of this short.)
But…I’m not just posting this for reading pleasure. I’m posting this as a lesson in editing…mostly for me…but hopefully it will help others too.
I want you to rip it apart. Okay..no I don’t…I want you to be nice, but I want everyone that comments to think about the steps they go through when editing and leave tips in their comments.
I have an internal editor that talks all the time…however…I’m not sure if she’s ever right, so I want to see what issues I am leaving out.
Now…this is the rough draft. I have not edited or gone back in and flourished description or really checked anything except spelling, but typically, when I edit, these are some of the things I check for:
1. Slashing adverbs
2. Highlighting adjectives and then finding a better way to describe what’s happening.
6. Passive Voice
I’m sure there are examples of each of the things mentioned above in my short. That’s kind of the point of this exercise. Point them out for me…tell me what you see.
What is on your editing list?
The Other Woman
She lay beside him in their bed, staring with those big brown eyes he loved so much.
“Sam, please don’t do this,” he begged. “You have to forgive me.”
Her eyes fell as she sighed, making him want to cry. He’d broken her heart into a million pieces and he had no idea how to fix it.
“She meant nothing to me,” he said for the hundredth time.
He was telling the truth. The other woman was just a temporary need, nothing more. He’d loved Sam for nearly a decade. She was his best friend and companion, loyal and loving to a fault.
She greeted him every morning with a kiss and kept the bed warm at night until he was ready to turn in. She’d never once hurt him or turned her back on him and yet he had done the unthinkable.
He replaced her.
He leaned forward and kissed her gently on the nose, an act of love shared between them since the day they met.
“I love you, Sam,” he whispered, his voice apologetic and heart broken. “If you’d like, we could go for a walk tomorrow. Down by the beach. I know it’s your favorite.”
With that, she put her head on his shoulder, touching him for the first time in days. She’d missed their long walks. She’d missed playing with him in the surf.
She snuggled closer and the weight lifted off his shoulders. She always offered forgiveness even when he had no right to it. Of that, he was thankful.
Soon, he drifted off to sleep, but Sam could think of only one thing.
The other woman had left her mark. Her things were still all over the house and Sam couldn’t take it. She knew what she had to do.
Once he was fast asleep, she snuck out of the house and dug a hole in the back yard big enough to hold the other woman’s fancy clothes, high-heeled shoes, make-up, and tacky perfume.
She piled the things into the hole and covered them up with the dark dirt that now covered her. She realized he would see the disruption in his perfect lawn the next morning when he came outside to read his paper and have coffee, but she didn’t care. He could scold her if he liked. She’d gotten her revenge and better than that, she had him. The other woman was gone and life could get back to normal.
The next morning, Sam woke to the sound she thought she would never hear again.
The other woman’s voice.
Sam crept down the hallway to the backdoor until she could see them standing in the backyard.
“I can’t believe you let her do this,” the other woman said. Her face was wild and red, her hands balled into fists.
“I’ll dig up everything and get it back to you,” he said, scratching his head as he studied Sam’s handy work.
“Ohhh!” The other woman yelled and stomped as she headed back toward the house. Stopping just short of the back porch, she turned to face him again, shaking her finger at him the way Sam loathed. “She has ruined you,” the other woman said. “If you had half a brain you’d get rid of her! I can’t believe you chose her over me!”
She stormed into the house, right past Sam who shot her an evil look as she left.
Sam pushed open the back door and strolled out to where he stood, rubbing gently against him, hoping he wasn’t too angry with her.
“She’s probably going to sue me, you know. You destroyed some really expensive things, Sam.”
She felt a bit ashamed, just a bit, and lowered her head for dramatic effect.
“She thinks you’ve ruined me, that I’m crazy for choosing you over her,” he said, stroking the back of Sam’s neck. “But what does she expect?” He was laughing now and that made Sam’s heart kick with joy. “It’s a story as old as time.”
He knelt down and gave her another kiss on the nose.
“Dog is definitely man’s best friend,” he said. “No doubt about it.” He ruffled her fur and watched her eyes light up. “Now let’s go for that walk.”