I'm currently rewriting large segments of a book I love to make it fit a publisher's requirements. The story line is good but I need to make two secondary characters the major characters, so a lot of things have to be rewritten in another person's point of view with their goals, motivations and conflicts coming to the fore.
It's an interesting process. There are some scenes that are working much better from the different point of view, but others are weaker. I might change them back to the original way later, if the story can tolerate it.
Throughout the process, I'm changing descriptions as well, because these characters see things and interpret them differently than the other characters do. I'm enjoying looking at the landscape in a different way and working out how these characters will see it.
The whole time I'm writing, I have in my head a lesson I learned reading a romance book years ago. It was a 'classic' kind of romance where the man was dominant and the woman definitely not. That in itself irritated me, but not enough to stop reading. The book did end up being thrown at the wall and never touched again other than to throw it out--all because of one phrase.
He laid her down in a fragrant bed of bougainvillea.
Yep, a classic romance. Pretty flowers, nice fragrances, people romantically rolling around in the petals. There were only a couple of problems:
Long after I've forgotten the title or author of that book, I keep that scenario in my head. It helps me with my descriptions, and making sure I do enough research so I don't make the same stupid mistakes.
Below is an extract of the story I've been writing. (Bear in mind it hasn't been edited.) I'd love people to pick out any stupid descriptive errors I've made. That way I can fix them before I submit to a publisher.
The breeze dropped as the sun peeped between the mountain peaks. A shiver ran across Checa’s shoulders and, with a thought, he thickened the fur at his ruff. To the north, the line of trees that followed the river were dry and brittle, more than half of them already dead. Even this high up, he was sure he could smell the rot that had taken over the valley. If they didn’t find the cause and fix it, the entire valley would be dead in another couple of years.
He wracked his brains, but could think of only one instance in the histories such a catastrophe had been mentioned. He closed his eyes and, deep in his soul, he felt the two moons moving inexorably closer. Another sign. Then there was his eyes, but there was one born every generation, so just because he had silver eyes, it didn’t mean it was time for the Warrior Pledge to be invoked. If was probably all a myth anyway. No matter what he wanted to believe, he wasn’t the Silver Shining from Rock that would save the world and become a hero.
In the ravine below a flock of birds took flight. Checa shook his head and huffed in irritation. Even with fifteen years training behind him, Heath could never move anywhere quietly.
His name carried in the still air and an involuntary smile overtook him at the joy he could hear in Heath’s voice. His muscles twitched, wanting to move, to go down and meet Heath, see the morning light grow as it reached his features. Just that one sight would be enough to make his day complete, even if it hadn’t yet begun.
He counted his breaths to ensure he remained in his place, sitting cross-legged on the platform. There had been an unusual vibration in the air during the night, an unsteadiness in his land, and he had to determine what it was. His people depended on him to keep them safe.
Heath was closer now, the sound of him crashing through the brush a rhythmic counterpoint to his steady footfalls on the leaf-strewn ground. Checa allowed his posture to relax and straightened his legs. He shifted forward so his balance would be stronger, wiped the new smile from his face, and waited.
Heath burst into the clearing like a new spring bloom, ran to the platform and launched himself at Checa. Checa braced his legs against the edge of the platform, opened his arms and caught the younger man as he flew to him. They landed flat on the platform, the bare skin of their chests fusing, Heath’s sweat soaking into Checa’s chest hair and becoming his own. Checa oomphed as his head hit the stone, and Heath’s landing knocked the air from his lungs, but he didn’t release his hold. Some days, this was all he had. This was the best of everything he had.
He wrapped his arms around Heath more securely.
“Sorry,” whispered Heath as he snuggled his head under Checa’s collar bone.
Checa ran his fingers through Heath’s long, tangled hair, relishing the touch of smooth skin at the back of his neck. “You’ve been running,” he said as he loosened another knot. He lifted the now smooth strand and released it. It fell like a waterfall of gold and bronze, copper and chocolate, in the strengthening light.
“I had to.” Heath pressed his lips against Checa’s chest and inhaled before relaxing in a boneless heap. “It’s faster.”
“And you just had to race up here to snuggle?”
Heath nodded, then chuckled. “That’s a great side benefit.”
“So what had you in such a tearing rush?” Checa continued his gentle smoothing of Heath’s hair, not in any hurry to break the contact he craved, but Heath bounced up to sit squarely over Checa’s groin. He groaned at the change in pressure and punched his hips up. Their loin cloths prevented direct contact, but every ridge and bulge pressed against Checa and raised his interest.
Heath grinned at him. “Yeah, that too, but you’ve got to hear this. It’s happening, Checa! It’s finally happening.” Heath bounced in his excitement.
Checa grabbed his hips and lifted him off, ignoring the pouting scowl he got in return. Once they were both seated on the platform, dawn washing its gentle light over them and the soft breeze returned, he raised an eyebrow and waited.
“Stop it,” said Heath as he slapped Checa’s arm. “I’m not some test animal. You don’t have to experiment to see how long I stay silent.”
“Clearly not long.”
E E Montgomery
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