Victoria Mixon, Author & Editor Editing     Testimonials     Books     About     Contact       Copyright


Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar, "Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction."

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.






  • By Victoria Mixon

    Free CLIMAX Edit #4 goes to someone who asked if they could be anonymous. I don’t mind. Do you guys?

    Setup

    Elizabeth is under the control of a warlock who needs to get to her husband, the warlock hunter Anthony, in order to destroy him and complete his (the warlock) world domination. The warlock has summoned his forces of the elements and finally forced open the door to Anthony and Elizabeth’s house, their last defense.

    Climax

    If Elizabeth wasn’t going to close that door, Anthony would.

    The wind whirled around her against the night. It whipped her long hair into his eyes. He threw his weight against the door. She threw up a hand and staggered back, but still didn’t speak. The door shuddered and lurched against him. He braced his foot against the wall and strained. Sweat poured down his face in the icy air. The door creaked ominously and inched toward him. He crushed his full weight into his shoulder, pushing back. The door creaked and groaned. The timbers cracked at the hinges. He began to weep helplessly. Tears poured down his face. His foot was squashing deeper into the triangle between the wall and the floor. And still he pushed. And shoved. And strained. The door wavered and paused. It was equally forced from both sides. It began to inch toward him again. He felt a socket give in his shoulder. It was over. He could never win. It was over.

    Elizabeth rolled her lifeless eyes towards him. Then she staggered forward. She couldn’t bend her knees. She dropped her weight on him like a sack of cement. The door slammed shut.

    Developmental Edit

    Well, we’ve got tension, all right! Toe-to-toe struggle—that’s what readers like to see!

    Can we tell what the premise of this story is? A warlock hunter triumphs over the efforts of a warlock to destroy him.

    Do we know what the implications of that triumph are? Since Anthony is described as a warlock hunter, I’m assuming it’s either Anthony or warlock. If the warlock can’t destroy Anthony, I’m guessing Anthony’s got the warlock by the scalp.

    Now, this is an interesting example of the use of short sentences to create tension. But it’s easy to over-do. I’ve broken that up a little to keep the reader from becoming acclimated to the short sentences and hence immune to the tension. Yank them forward: yank, yank. Reel them out a little. Yank them back in again. Yank, yank. That keeps the reader off balance, while hypnotizing them deeper and deeper into your fictional dream.

    There are two instances of “threw” pretty close together, so I replace one with “put” to avoid the repetition. There are also two instances of “creaked” pretty close together.

    I’m also going to suggest you beware of accidentally sounding a comedic note. “Squashing” is an inherently funny word. “Like a sack of cement” is an inherently funny metaphor. I’ve replaced “squash” with “force” and dropped the sack of cement altogether in order to keep the tone dark and threatening all the way.

    Copy & Line Edit

    If Elizabeth wasn’t going to close that door, Anthony was.

    The wind whirled around her, out of the night, whipping her long hair into his eyes as he threw his weight against the door. She put up a hand and staggered back, but still didn’t speak. The door shuddered and lurched against him. He braced his foot against the wall and strained. Sweat poured down his face in the icy air. He crushed his full weight into his shoulder, pushing back. The door creaked and groaned ominously. The timbers cracked at the hinges. He began to weep helplessly. Tears poured down his face, as his foot was forced deeper and deeper into the triangle between the wall and the floor. And still he pushed. And shoved. And strained. The door wavered and paused. It began to inch toward him again. He felt a socket give in his shoulder. It was over. He could never win. It was over—

    Elizabeth rolled her lifeless eyes toward him and staggered forward on stiff knees. She dropped her weight against him.

    The door slammed shut.

    Subscribe:

    5 Comments

    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

    5 Comments

5 Responses to “Free CLIMAX Edit: Anonymous

  1. It’s very interesting to read such a small part of someone’s work and still get so much out of it. I thought the original was very exciting, but agree that squash and sack of cement jostled me a little bit.

    I was very into what was happening on the human side of the door and could imagine the man’s feet sliding backward into the triangle!!!! SO SCAREY!!

    My question: Would it have been a suitable choice to describe what was happening on the other side of the door. Should we get to see a gnarled, green finger emerge from the crack between the door and the door frame? Is it better to keep the focus on one side of the door? I like that the door created a distinct line – but would it have been okay to cross it?

    Kathryn

  2. As Flannery O’Connor said, “You can do anything in fiction you can get away with. Unfortunately, nobody’s ever gotten away with much.”

    I liked that we couldn’t see what was on the other side of the door. The sense of blindness added to the tension for me.

    But, yes, you could have heightened the sense of invasion by allowing some part of the whatever-it-was to cross the boundary Anthony was fighting to hold. Just keep in mind why you’re doing it, so you can decide exactly what to do, how much, and what result to get.

  3. I just imagined it was an invisible force pushing on the door, rather than a concrete being. That might be clearer in context.

    (And personally, I’m fine with anonymous edits!)

  4. Oh, good, Jordan! I will put something up about being anonymous. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned it to me as being “nerve-wracking.” It’s very hard to put your baby out there in front of you-have-no-idea-how-many strangers. You guys are all very brave.

    And, yeah, I thought maybe it was the wind or the night or a storm or something pushing on the door because the warlock has some control over “elements.”

    But now I want to see Kathryn do WRITE—I want to see her WRITE—something with a gnarled, green finger! She’s a great writer.

  5. I need to brush up on my warlock lore. Control of the elements, huh?
    Then it would be just as terrifying to see a mist begin to seep in around the edges of the door! That would certainly motivate me to push harder! But again, I do like how the focus is on the struggle to keep the door closed. The door is everything!

    You asked for it. Now here it is: My gnarled, green fingers simply cannot scrub another floor, wall or cabinet!

    K




FREE BESTSELLER!


Get your free collection
of my most popular posts
from deep within
the secret recesses of my blog
—viewed a quarter-million times—

11 posts. . .because this blog goes to 11



Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .


ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .


ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

Google