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 #6 goes to Kathryn Rushing, whose MG novel is set in the Zagros Mountains thousands of years ago. Kathryn wins a free private email chat about her writing!

    Setup

    Twelve-year-old Mirren has found her father, Kanen, high in the mountains where he has been sent to capture (for Sargon) a mankilling lion. The villages in Sargon’s empire all believe the lion is a symbol of the gods’ displeasure with Sargon, and every moment the lion lives weakens Sargon’s rule. Mirren has her wardogs Valon and Jax with her. Kanen has only one surviving wardog left.

    The lion is going for Mirren, but Valon and Jax intercept it.

    Climax

    The three met with an impact that cracked the air. Mirren rolled toward her father and tossed him her hunting stick. He wasted no time. He flipped it around so the sharp end was toward the lion and plunged into the fight, the brown wardog at his side.

    Jax was already at the lion’s throat. His jaws worked furiously to find a hold through the lion’s thick mane while Valon leapt for the lion’s back. Her teeth sank into its spine and her back claws raked its shoulders as she struggled to pull her weight on top of it.

    Moons spent avoiding the nip of cave rats had made the wardogs quick. When the lion swiped at Jax, he danced aside, and the great curved claws passed through his black coat like a comb. Valon tightened her jaws on the back of the lion’s neck, and the lion swung around to throw her off. Her legs slipped off the lion’s back and, for a moment, her underbelly was exposed. The lion jaws opened wide to tear at her, but Jax launched himself upward, taking the massive head with him.

    The brown wardog worked vengefully on the other end, tearing at the lion’s rump, trying to bring the lion down. Kanen maneuvered around the dog and stabbed the hunting stick into the soft spot behind the lion’s ribs. The lion roared and contorted its body wildly, shaking off all three dogs.

    It was the opening Mirren was waiting for.

    Developmental Edit

    First things first: that line, “The three met with an impact that cracked the air.” WOW. Can you hear it? Can you feel it? Short, succinct, specific, physical—total economy of words. If I were Kathryn, I’d frame that sentence and hang on the wall.

    Can we tell what the premise of the novel is? Twelve-year-old Mirren attacks a lion and proves herself to her father. Anything else? Well, obviously the wardogs are pivotal. Why was Mirren following her father? How much do we get to learn about Sargon and his rule? What’s going to happen after Mirren goes for the lion? Curiosity is very good for the reader’s soul.

    This whole piece moves at a powerful, headlong clip, just one concrete action after another, which is trickier than it looks when you’ve got this many characters moving and acting simultaneously. I did change “danced” to “jumped” to keep from distracting the reader with a complex motion right at that riveting instant. And I changed the lion’s “jaws” to “mouth” because Valon’s jaws have already appeared in that sentence. I’ve trimmed some other words and streamlined the sentences to keep flowing, always, flowing straight toward that final sentence (which, I suspect, is not quite the climax, but the last sentence before the climax of the Climax). Is Mirren going to take out the lion? I am so sure she is. Mirren is one hardcore twelve-year-old mountain village girl!

    Am I on the edge of my seat waiting to find out? You better believe it.

    Copy & Line Edit

    The three met with an impact that cracked the air. Mirren rolled toward her father and tossed him her hunting stick. He flipped it so the sharp end faced the lion.

    Jax was already at the lion’s throat, his jaws working furiously to find a hold through the lion’s thick mane. Valon’s teeth sank into the lion’s spine, and her back claws raked its shoulders as she struggled to pull her weight on top of it.

    Moons spent avoiding the nip of cave rats had made the wardogs quick. When the lion swiped at Jax, he jumped aside, and the great curved claws passed through his black coat like a comb. Valon tightened her jaws, and the lion swung around to throw her off. Her legs slipped off the lion’s back, for a moment her underbelly was exposed, and the lion’s mouth opened wide, but Jax launched himself upward, taking the massive head with him.

    Kanen’s brown wardog tore at the lion’s rump, and Kanen maneuvered around the dog to stab the hunting stick into the soft spot behind the lion’s ribs. The lion roared and contorted its body wildly, shaking off all three dogs.

    It was the opening Mirren was waiting for.

    Subscribe:

    6 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

    6 Comments

6 Responses to “Free CLIMAX Edit: Kathryn

  1. Hi Victoria!

    Thank you so much!!! Now, I must go back to my secret laboratory and study every change.

    K

  2. These edits are a great education for all writers. You don’t just slim down the prose–you add white space.

    Really important for readablity, especially on an electronic device.

  3. Thank you, Anne! It can help so much to see just how much can be cut out, and how sharp and powerful your own words are when they’re left to stand on their own. It’s like having someone unwrap the box you’ve been working so hard on. “Check it out! I’ve invented DYNAMITE!”

    Kathryn, you have to tell us what you stock your laboratory with. Red-lights? Black-lights? Secret ink? Is that where you keep all the gnarled green fingers?

  4. What a vivid, powerful scene! Great job, Kathryn!

  5. Kathryn Estrada said on

    Thank you, Jordan!

    Victoria! You know I stock my lab with chocolate. I have huge vats of it bubbling over as we speak. (It’s a happy lab!)

    Kathryn

  6. Kathryn, I am on my way, and I’m bringing my bathing suit.




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