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.
“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.
“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!
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.
How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.
Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.
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Thank you for sharing my work here Stacy! This scene is one of my favorites in the book.
Thanks for sharing your scene and editing process, Alice!
Great editing advice Alice. I think one of the hardest things about writing is the editing part, knowing what you should leave in to help move the story along without bogging it down. I really enjoyed this book.
Thanks for visiting, Suzanne! Pacing is so important – that delicate balance of conveying all the information and moving the story along without bogging it down.
Thank you Suzanne!
Editing is definitely my least favorite part, but it is so essential to refining our stories. One thing I like to do is read my work out loud. You hear so much more than just reading it in your head.
I’m looking forward to reading the second book in your series.
Thanks for reading, Patricia! Reading your work out loud is a great tip.
Thanks Patricia! Reading passages aloud is a great tip.
What a cool blog site.
In you first unedited version I said to myself. The song came out of nowhere. Then you edited it and it all became clear. You gave great examples. As always, I love reading your stories.
Thanks for stopping by, Callie! Glad you like the site. I love reading the before-and-after examples like Alice’s!
Thank you Callie!
Nice blog! Oh yes, I loved how your edited version just sounds so much smoother- great job! Love your work 🙂
Thank you Sassy!
Great advice and encouraging for when we go through the editing process. Thanks, Alice!
Thank you Estelle! I am about to start editing my current WIP… it’s going to take as long as it took me to write it, but editing makes the book so much better.