Editing Experiment: Street Sounds v2

January 14, 2010 § 10 Comments

Thank you for waiting. I know I’m late, but I’ve been busy. This is day four of a  five day training I’m attending. But here is my assignment – version 2 of my editing experiment.

I chose to do the first two of Sonya’s suggestions:

1) “underline the concrete nouns (that you can see, touch, taste, hear, or smell) and the strongest/most specific words, phrases and passages and

2) replace clichés, abstract nouns, repeated words, and any vague areas that need to be made more specific.”

 

Here is the initial identification of concrete nouns and specific phrases (and please tell me if I am wrong, if I missed something…):

She’s there in her torn hose and high heels, wobbling down the chilly street; traffic slows for light and not her; no one heeds her shouts, her wildly waving arms, open mouth and no words, dark sweater, she is singing, shouting, gesturing to whom? Her fingers form the words – American sign or gibberish, I cannot say. Are these sounds she hears as she speaks in her own silence? Is she threatening herself or others? Talking back to her own head? A homeless heart survives through shared mission – violence, camaraderie, food joined by speech, fueled by isolation.

I imagine her first home: Two caring parents, one deaf, one not, or maybe both hearing. They learn her world, her finger-speak and take care to curb their sounds so she doesn’t feel left out. Then one day her signs turn sour, she’s speaking not to them but to others not in the room. They try to force her eyes so she can read their words, but she closes them and they cannot make her hear. So she spends her days in double-bubble wrap of deafness and psychosis. A gift from the gods that protects her fantasy – with her eyes closed no one can enter. Street sounds belong only to me.

 

Here is the replacement exercise, in which I also began to do some minor editing with sentence structure and punctuation:

She strides in her torn hose and high heels, wobbling slightly down the chilly street; traffic pauses for lights and not her; no one heeds her wildly waving arms – is she singing, shouting, gesturing? Her ashy fingers form her words – American Sign or gibberish, I cannot tell. What does she hear as she speaks in her own silence? Is she threatening herself or me? Answering her internal voices? Homeless hearts survive through shared encounters – violence, camaraderie, food; they are joined by speech, drained by isolation.

I imagine her first home: Two parents, one deaf, one not, or maybe both hearing. They learn her world, her finger-speak; they take care to curb their sounds so she doesn’t feel alone. Then one day her signs turn sour. She’s speaking – not to them – but to some they cannot see. They try to force her eyes so she can read their words, but she closes them; they cannot make her hear. She spends her days in a double, bubble wrap of deafness and psychosis. This fragile gift protects her fantasy – with her eyes closed, no one can enter. The street sounds belong only to me.

Thoughts? Suggestions? And if you happen to be doing this, how’s it working for you?

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§ 10 Responses to Editing Experiment: Street Sounds v2

  • […] version of Street Sounds.  For newcomers, you can follow the process and poetic changes here, here, here, and […]

  • […] is the third version, the first draft is here and the second here. Next time, I’ll hit Sonya’s 5 Strategies for Taking Your Writing from Draft to […]

  • I’d have to agree with your other adoring fans Pamela, this was definitely a success. I loved them both ways but like Don said, the second was crisper and slightly cleaner.

    All that being said it’s a fine line, at least for me. When you edit just for the sake of editing, you can easily lose that vision that you originally had in your gut. But since you seem to have found a way to edit that is more like fine tuning, I say go for it, you’re doing great so far!

    • Scott, I like the idea that this is fine tuning, instead of editing for its own sake. One of the things I was told is that the final product can sometimes look completely different than the original, because the revision holds true to the original vision, not the first attempt.

      That’s what I’m interested in exploring. Do you find that your work changes dramatically?

  • Donald Mills says:

    I much preferred the edited version. Small things in the punctuation (like the use of em dashes) really made a big difference and there were some very good changes in wording. It felt much crisper to me.

  • shoutabyss says:

    I tried to clear my mind and read each version on its own. I find that a little hard to do while reading the second with the first still fresh. That said, I think the experiment was a success. Both were versions were excellent and equally compelling, but the edited version grabbed me more. I think. It is a close thing.

    The opening sentence, for example:

    She’s there …
    She strides …

    So much more information and urgency in that subtle little change. Very well done.

    • Yay! Your comment reflects reasons for editing. I usually edit before I post, but this time I’m being transparent and going about it systematically, which I hope will help the edits be more powerful and specific.

      Thank you for your time, SA.

  • G says:

    It sounds like you’re off to a good start.

    Question on this particular sentence:

    This fragile gift protects her fantasy – with her eyes closed, no one can enter.

    Would it make more sense to write it as:

    This fragile gift protects her fantasy – eyes closed, no one can enter

    Or does that sound chopped?

    As for me, it seems to be doing okay, I edit whenever I get a free moment, before going back to writing.

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