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LESSON #1 IN REVISION

The original, from THE MONSTER IN ME:


Over a canal, and John turns off the main road. He winds through a few more turns, and pulls into the driveway in front of a light-colored brick house. It isn't new, but isn't made out of adobe, either.

It confuses me that the house is so big. I mean, I know I heard Alice saying she had been adopted and that was why she wanted to help me, but I hadn't believed it. That was just the hard sell, the stuff she said so Ms. Beck had something to write down to make the Parkers look good.

Wasn't it? It couldn't be real, could it?

I felt my legs start to shake. Probably from too much running this morning.

"Home at last," says Alice as she opens the door.

Not my home, I think.


As revised:

John turns off the main road. Then he winds though a few more turns and pulls into the driveway in front of a light-colored brick house.

The house is so big, so permanent.

My legs start to shake. Probably from too much running this morning.

"Home at last," says Alice as she opens the door.


I like this because it teaches a simple lesson, that less is more. This is why a good 60 pages of THE MONSTER IN ME were cut from the manuscript at the copy editing stage. Before that, my editor was trying hard to get me to flesh out characters. Then she had to deal with my tendency to say the same thing over and over again, to hit the reader over the head. It's really much better writing to simply let one metaphor work through a section: "so big, so permanent."

Also, I was letting Natalie, the pov character, know too much about the other characters. She doesn't know their motivations and it's awkward for her to guess at them. Also, she should experience the moment as it comes, not over analyze it. A simple change like "I felt my legs start to shake" to "My legs start to shake" makes the experience more immediate, as well.



Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2011 all rights reserved.
Last revised August 10, 2011.