How I Edit, Starting Point

I took a while to decide which draft to start from.  This one is not completely embarrassing, so I will start with this draft.  My plan is to show where I started from, then go through my question list and show how I edit the scene as I go.  Finally, I will post the current (and pretty close to final) draft of the scene.  This will take several posts to get through, so let’s get started.  Here is our troubled piece of writing we will be starting from:

Mirian stood in front of the altar in the temple’s worship hall, excitement causing her to bounce up and down slightly on the balls of her feet. Prophet Neijen stood on the opposite side holding a small knife out towards her, handle first. As a healer at the temple of Ailiah, she was required to offer a blood sacrifice to the goddess every week. Unlike the other healers, Mirian looked forward to the weekly ritual. Behind her, Mirian listened to the rustling of the crowd shifting impatiently in their seats. The daily worship ceremony was closed to the public, but the weekly service was open to visitors from the nearby village who came to offer their prayers and petitions.

The others had already cut their fingers and dripped a few droplets of blood into the bowl on the altar. With that small of a sacrifice, it was no wonder they weren’t better healers. Mirian accepted the knife and held it in her left hand. The bone handle balanced the thin metal blade extending three inches from the end. The blade was more of a flattened needle than a knife, thin and narrow, having been designed to perform this one task only. Prophet Neijen took a step back from the altar. Mirian held the blade in the flame of the Candle of Purity on the altar for a moment, letting it lick around the metal blade, heating it quickly. Pulling it back from the flame, she rested the tip against the palm of her right hand, positioning it below her first and second finger, near the fleshy part of her thumb. Closing her eyes and tilting her head back slightly, she felt her exhilaration building. Ailiah’s power surged inside her, anticipating her next move. Mirian opened her eyes, gazing at the statue of Ailiah beside the altar. The thick smell of the incense created a buzzing in her head that drowned out the sounds of the crowd. Mirian inhaled deeply, then plunged the blade into the palm of her right hand.

Mirian’s breath caught in her chest. The burning pain seared up her arm into her brain, then coursed through her body. The first two fingers of her hand curled inward, fingertips touching the knife’s handle even as that half of her hand went numb. Looking down, she watched the blood flow into the cup.

Exhaling finally, she recited the prayer of sacrifice; “May this offering of mine satisfy the need for bloodshed and suffering for this week. May Ailiah bless me with the power to remove the infirmities of those in need. Ailiah’s love.”

For a moment, Mirian basked in the warmth of Ailiah’s love. Her entire arm throbbed angrily with her heartbeat but Mirian barely felt it, the euphoria of making the sacrifice to her goddess washed away any other thought in her mind. Taking another deep breath, Mirian shifted her grip on the knife’s handle and pulled. She placed the knife blade down into the bowl of blessed water and held her hand out to Prophet Neijen. He pressed a bandage on each side of her hand while High Priest Vaktril tied a strip of cloth around both to hold them tightly against her wounds.

As they did so, Vaktril muttered to her “there is no need to penetrate your entire hand. An offering of a few drops of blood is sufficient.” Mirian smiled in return, his weekly admonition having no more effect on her than it ever did. She gave no answer, but turned and walked back to her prayer mat.

Take a read, laugh, and watch this space for the improvement process.




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8 responses to “How I Edit, Starting Point

  1. Lol, is this your first draft? Because I didn’t read this version. But there’s nothing laughable about it – it’s just too wordy, otherwise fine. You should see my first draft – You’d roll around laughing :p

    • OMG, no. My first draft was horrifying. Really. I will try to find a copy and post a link to it here. You have to promise that it won’t scare you away from the story though!

      OK, went through my Google Documents and found the VERY FIRST draft of Chapter 1. I like to think that I have grown as a writer since then. HA!

      There’s the link. I would tell you to enjoy it, but that may be a challenge. :^)


  2. Ha! I win, mine is still more terrible (Mind you, I wrote it when I was ten, and perfected it when I for fourteen). The flow of your first draft is good, even it threatened to bore the crap out of me at some point. 🙂
    I wish I could give you a snipped of my first draft so you could roll around laughing.

  3. Your first draft shows a lot about Mirian’s character, which is never a bad thing. It just dragged in places, but now you know that! I’m looking forward to seeing the detailed progression of your edits!

  4. Popping back here to say that you’ve got an award on my blog! Come and pick it up 😉

  5. Ahh..I remember this one. Your current one is really polished up compared to the very first one. I’m not sure there are many writers who get anything right the first go-around. You’re doing great!

  6. Pingback: The rest of the questions… | J Andrew Jansen

  7. Pingback: Next pass: Efficiency and effect | J Andrew Jansen

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