Thursday, May 21, 2015
One way to deepen and at the same time add length to a manuscript is to look for sentences and paragraphs that can be expanded, especially by upping the use of senses, emotion and setting. But don’t just look for any possibility, search for places that will strengthen the story’s main genre or secondary genre—a place to bring out more of a historic feel or the creepiness of horror, slow down the feel of a razor cutting or the swish of a lover’s skirts as they drop to a marble floor…
In my case, I’ve been looking for places to up the romance in my story. Nothing big, just little spots.
Here is a before and after of a paragraph I expanded. The first version was fine. But the revised version allows more romance to seep into the scene. It also slows the story’s pace in a spot where I felt like the pages were moving too fast. Actually, it accomplishes quite a number of other things as well.
The revised version still needs tweaking and polishing, so forgive the roughness.
While I watched, Chase used a lighter to scorch a cork from a wine bottle, charring it deep black to make the smudge we needed for our faces. He did my face first, staggering the warm cork down my cheeks to create weeping streaks from my eyes to my chin.
“Your fingernails need to go, too,” he said.
While I pulled my hair back into a loose ponytail, Chase used a lighter to scorch a cork from a wine bottle, charring it deep black to make the smudge we needed for our faces.
“I’ll do you first,” he said.
I tipped my chin up and he bent close to me, holding the cork between his thumb and forefinger as he intently studied my face. Heat rushed up my neck and across my cheeks. I closed my eyes, blocking out his gaze. But then his amazing scent assaulted me: the hot tang of a welder’s torch, the linger perfume of new mowed grass. He pulled the cork along my cheek bones, and the warmth of his breath brushed my lips. Oh, god. I shifted my weight, trying to put an end to the thrum buzzing in my belly and between my legs. His grip on my chin tightened, fingers demanding but as smooth as satin sheets. The cork staggered down my nose and chin, followed by the press of his moist thumb. Finally, he released me and I let out my breath.
“Not bad. Almost fierce,” he said, stepping back.
I glanced in the mirror. Wide swaths of black wept down from my eyes and streaked my nose and chin. “Wow. I don’t even want to meet myself in a dark alley.” I laughed.
His expression remained serious. “Your fingernails need to go, too.”
So how about you? What techniques to you use to deepen and lengthen your stories?