Behind The Rewrite With Alice Renaud: Fleshing Out With Line Editing Example

Behind The Rewrite With Alice Renaud: Fleshing Out With Line Editing Example

line editing

In this Behind the Rewrite installment, author Alice Renaud shows how to flesh out and improve the flow of a scene through line editing, using an excerpt from her fantasy romance novel, Music for a Merman.

Alice Renaud’s Behind The Rewrite

The hero, Rob, a shape-shifting merman working as a cop, is falling in love with a human woman, Charlie, in defiance of the laws of his people. In this passage, Rob has just had breakfast with his sergeant, Jack, in the police station. As he leaves the station to go back to his flat, he composes a merman love song for Charlie.

In the first version, we jump straight from Jack’s line of dialogue to Rob composing the song, without any transition, which is jarring. Then Rob hums the song before thinking that the song comes from the deepest place in his heart. It doesn’t seem to be the right order.

The revised version shows Rob saying goodbye to his boss, leaving the station, and reaching the sidewalk. There’s a song on the radio, he whistles along to it, then he gets the inspiration for a new song—a merman’s song. The edits aim to improve the flow of the scene and highlight Rob’s musical talent, as well as his forbidden love for the human woman. I also added a bit more about his brother, who unlike Rob fell in love with a mermaid, so he was able to marry her and have children.

Unedited Version

“Course you can.” Jack pulled the local paper towards him and turned to the crossword page. “I’m here, and Frank will be along, as soon as he’s taken his youngest to her scuba-diving class. Take the rest of the day off. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The song came to Rob as he walked up the street towards his rented flat. He hummed it to himself, the clicks and whistles bouncing around the whitewashed walls and glistening cobblestones. It came out of the deepest place in his heart, fluid and passionate. His eldest brother Rhodri had composed a similar tune once, when he was courting the mermaid who had become his mate.

line editing example

Edited Version

“Course you can.” Jack pulled the local newspaper towards him and turned to the crossword page. “I’m here, and Frank will be along, as soon as he’s taken his youngest to her scuba-diving class. Take the rest of the day off.” A folk song came on the radio, and he hummed along with it, tapping his pencil against the paper.

Rob grabbed his jacket from the back of a chair. “Thanks! I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The catchy melody followed him along the corridor, and he could still hear it as he left the police station. He stood on the sidewalk and whistled a few bars. Inside him, from the deepest place in his heart, another song began to grow. A merman’s song, richer and more passionate than anything on the human radio. But he couldn’t sing aloud in the middle of the street. He began to walk towards his flat, humming to himself. The clicks and whistles bounced around the whitewashed walls and glistening cobblestones.

His brother Rhodri had sung a lot, when he was courting the mermaid who had become his mate. But his tunes had been happier. He’d had the sense to fall for a girl that his father approved of, a good mermaid of the Regor Clan. There’d never been any doubt that they would marry, and their first merbaby was already on the way. Rhodri would never know what it was like to long for an unsuitable mate, someone he couldn’t keep.

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

Music for a Merman, a Sea of Love novel – Rob Regor knew that humans were trouble. All the shape shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands knew it. And human women were double trouble… especially when they were lying on the road in front of a digger. Rob has a mission. Go to the mainland. Work as a policeman. Spy on humans. Report back to his father, the head of the Regor Merman Clan. It should be easy. Until he has to arrest Charlie. Rob can’t fight his attraction to the sexy eco-warrior, and it puts him on one hell of a collision course with his family and his Clan. Will he break the rules – or break her heart, and his? Love ‘em and leave ‘em, that was Charlie’s motto. It had served her well until now. But Rob is different… Can she open up her heart to Rob—when a secret buried in her past surfaces and changes her completely? Books in the Sea of Love series can be read independently.

More About Alice Renaud

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, A Merman’s Choice, was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, Music for a Merman, is out now and the third, Mermaids Marry in Green will be released later this year. Alice has also written a short story, The Sweetest Magic of All, included in the BVS Mystic Desire anthology, out now. Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

 

Behind The Rewrite With J. Arlene Culiner: Tackling Wordiness @JArleneCuliner

Behind The Rewrite With J. Arlene Culiner: Tackling Wordiness @JArleneCuliner

Do you ever grapple with wordiness in your manuscripts? Below, J. Arlene Culiner shows you a before-and-after from her romantic mystery book, The Turkish Affair, demonstrating the importance of tightening your manuscript.

 

J. Arlene Culiner’s Behind The Rewrite

The section I’ve chosen to present is from my romantic mystery, The Turkish Affair, published in January, 2020, by The Wild Rose Press. The earlier version needed tightening—it was too wordy. I knew I could cut and the story would be more interesting, especially since the phrases I wanted to eliminate had already been said in previous chapters.

Also, I knew it was better to imply certain things, not hammer them home. I changed words as well, using others I considered more effective .

 Earlier Version

“Okay then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into your past, do I have the right to ask one question?”

Her sigh was one of resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. Despite the rumors that had destroyed her life. She nodded. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared at him helplessly, at his strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun.

“That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.”

He slipped a finger under her chin, forced her to meet his gaze. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

***

“I’m telling you everything I know,” he began.

She nodded in assent, but her reluctance was almost palpable. Still, he needed to push on. Confide in her, for some crazy reason he couldn’t yet understand. If only he didn’t enjoy being with her so much, he thought. If only he didn’t admire her fierce independence. Or the sight of her, sitting forward, lips slightly parted, elbows on her knees, listening to his every word. It gave him the strange feeling they were, in some strange way, a matched pair. And allowing in emotions like that, left him vulnerable. He knew that. And he just didn’t care. Not anymore—not for the moment, anyway.

wordiness

Edited Version

Here is the same version with the things I decided to cut or words I wanted to change, or words I added because they were better (where I made changes is in bold)

“Okay then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into your past, do I have the right to ask one question?”

Her sigh was one of resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. Despite the rumors that had destroyed her life. She nodded. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His (word added) smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared at him helplessly, at his strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun.

“That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.” (line change)

He slipped a finger under her chin, forced her to meet his gaze. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

***

“I’m telling you everything I know,” he began.

She nodded in assent, but her reluctance was almost palpable. Still, he needed to push on. Confide in her, for some crazy reason he couldn’t yet understand. If only he didn’t enjoy being with her so much, he thought. If only he didn’t admire her fierce independence. Or the sight of her, sitting forward, lips slightly parted, elbows on her knees, listening to his every word. It gave him the strange feeling they were, in some strange way, a matched pair. And allowing in emotions like that, left him vulnerable. He knew that. And he just didn’t care. Not anymore — not for the moment, anyway.

I decided to eliminate this last paragraph entirely because it was boring, repetitive, and wordy. I also wanted to change the point of view, and do it more effectively than I did in the early version—just putting in the three star separation wasn’t good at all. Something more obvious was needed, so I wrote in a change of scene. Doing so, gave me the opportunity to add to the atmosphere and deepen the sense of place.

Final Version

“Okay, then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into secrets, do I have the right to ask one question?”

She nodded with resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His returning smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared helplessly at the strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun. “That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.”

He leaned forward, cupped her chin in his hand, and met her gaze evenly. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

***

An hour later, the sky was a gleaming dome white with heat, and only the deeply indented coast with its myriad inlets promised respite. Renaud rowed steadily toward a cove where waves were gentle and a few pines had secured a toehold in the inhospitable terrain. Slinging the rowboat’s line over a sharp boulder, he held out his hand to Anne, then kept her fingers coiled around his for as long as he could. If only he didn’t enjoy being with her so much. If only he didn’t admire her fierce independence, or the sight of her, now settled comfortably between abundant shrubs of fragrant myrtle, her lips slightly parted, elbows on her knees.

Yes, I think this final version really does work. I hope you think so, too. Thanks for letting me present these edits. It’s a fun subject!

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

The Turkish Affair by J. Arlene Culiner – Love and danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu. Priceless artifacts are disappearing from the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu in Turkey, and the site director has vanished. Called in to solve the mystery, archaeologist Renaud Townsend is hindered by both his inability to speak the language and the knowledge that the local police are corrupt. His attraction to translator Anne Pierson is immediate, although he is troubled by her refusal to talk about the past and her fear of public scandal. But when murder enters the picture, both Anne and Renaud realize that the risk of falling in love is not the only danger.

More About J. Arlene Culiner

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.)

 

Free 5-Day Line Editing Class! Learn Self-Editing Tips For Your Novel

Free 5-Day Line Editing Class! Learn Self-Editing Tips For Your Novel

Does the thought of revising your novel seem overwhelming? If your manuscript could use self-editing, sign up for my free email course on revising and editing strategies: Line Editing Made Simple – 5 Days to More Polished Pages. It features bite-sized self-editing tips and assignments to help you kick-start your line editing, even if you feel as if you’ve been getting nowhere. You’ll get lessons delivered to your in-box.

Here’s what you’ll learn inside this revision course, aimed at fiction and creatiive nonfiction writers:

* Lesson 1: The one thing that will jump-start your editing.
* Lesson 2: Three mistakes you may be making and what to do instead.
* Lesson 3: Five little words you need to start cutting now.
* Lesson 4: An important step you shouldn’t miss.
* Lesson 5: Struggling with wordy sentences? This will help.
Bonus: The ten-step checklist you need in your editing arsenal.

Sign up here.

I’m a fiction author, award-winning journalist, freelance developmental editor, and the founder of Shortcuts for Writers. My motto is “Let’s make editing simple,” and my signature course is Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable. I’ve taught workshops for organizations including Savvy Authors, RWA, and Sisters in Crime.

Also check out my free Facebook group, Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple. There are threads in the group where you can post your short homework assignments from the line editing course.

Get ProWritingAid For 20 Percent Off Plus My Exclusive Bonuses

Get ProWritingAid For 20 Percent Off Plus My Exclusive Bonuses

Should you invest in paid software like ProWritingAid? That’s a question I hear a lot from writers. My answer is that you should definitely consider it.

I always recommend ProWritingAid as the one to purchase, and if you use my affiliate link, you can get it for 20 percent off. Also, if you forward your receipt to me, I’ll send you two exclusive bonuses. (details below)

I’ve used the premium version for years and have corresponded with their support team as a customer and as an affiliate. I like the software, know it well, and find the customer support team responsive to questions and concerns. Want to know more about ProWritingAid? Keep reading!

FAQS

Q. What is ProWritingAid?

A. It’s my favorite editing software, and is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. You can view my demo below or on YouTube. You’ll learn why ProWritingAid is a helpful spell and grammar checker and editing tool for writers, see examples of the strengths and limitations, and watch me do some informal, off the cuff line editing.

I am promoting this tool as ProwritingAid is an excellent supplement to my upcoming signature online course Book Editing Blueprint, and it’s a resource that I recommend to my editing clients.

 

Q. Why buy it through my affiliate link?  

A. I’ve got a daughter going to college in a couple years, so I appreciate the affiliate sales! If you email me your receipt, I’ll send you my two-page Overused Words Cheat Sheet, a valuable tool that will only be available to students in Book Editing Blueprint. This resource will help you to find the stale overused words in your writing as well as the “padding words” that can be easily cut.

I’ll also send you a 42-minute tutorial video that teaches you how to use the Overused Words Cheat Sheet and unleash the power of ProWritingAid and Google Docs/Microsoft Word.

These two bonuses will help you to take your line editing to a new level.

Q. Which plan should I get? 

There are different options. Here is the U.S. pricing, as of this writing.

1-year: $70

2-year: $100

3-year: $140

Lifetime: $240

When choosing which plan to purchase, think about how often you’ll use it. Are you a prolific author who churns out a couple books per year? Then maybe the lifetime ProWritingAid license would be a worthwhile investment. I found that paying a one-time fee for a lifetime license was a much cheaper alternative than renewing a subscription on an ongoing basis. However, if it takes you a long time to write a book and you only have one manuscript, then a shorter-term plan might be sufficient.

Q. I might be interested. What do I do next?

1. Watch my demo video on YouTube or above.  I’ll show you exactly what the software does and run through several sample scans. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or tag me in the Facebook group and I will do my best to answer.

2. To purchase the software, use my link.

3. Forward your receipt to me at stacy@stacyjuba.com and I’ll send you my bonus Overused Words Cheat Sheet and the accompanying training video.

Let’s make editing simple.

Free Line Editing Class

Could your manuscript use trimming and polishing? Sign up for the FREE email class: Line Editing Made Simple - 5 Days To More Polished Pages. You'll get bite-sized lessons and assignments to help you kick-start your line editing. Sign up now!

free editing class

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest