Kick it up a notch!

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You guys, I’m very excited today. If you’ve been following me on Twitter (see the side bar!) you’ve seen that I finally learned how to edit today.  Not just take out a word here or there or make it flow a little better, but I learned how to take a scene and punch it up to the next level by choosing specific words and adding tension.  I took a lame Kindra-being-depressed scene and turned it into a Kindra-fighting scene without actually making her fight anyone.

Would you like to see it? Here, let me show you.  From the now-infamous (if you follow me on Twitter) Chapter 4 of Fie Eoin, the original “ok” version of the scene between Kindra and the High Priestess:

The woman emerged, calm and powerful as ever, and nodded Kindra inside. The warrior hated going into the tent of the High Priestess – it was always dim and smoky with incense – but she followed anyways. The priestess motioned her to have a seat. “You are looking for your sister?”

Far from catching Kindra off guard – she knew the High Priestess could read minds, it wasn’t just a rumor – she nodded. “She hasn’t come home for dinner and my mother is getting worried. Do you know where she is?”

The High Priestess’ face eased into a look of sympathy that Kindra didn’t believe she felt. “She has run away. I would have told you sooner, but you were resting.”

“Run away? From Fie Eoin?” Kindra frowned in disbelief as the High Priestess responded with a nod. “But we were guarding the perimeter all night and day. No one could have gone through – who let her through?”

The High Priestess shook her head. “No one. Kaye was using a form of energy control that made the conscious mind ignore her. As long as she didn’t address them directly, and they weren’t looking for her, they wouldn’t have realized she’d gone past. It’s very common among the priestesses – she’s been able to do it since she was nine.”

“What sort of priestess needs to sneak around like that?” Kindra crossed her arms and glared. “And how do you know she did it?”

“We have our reasons.” The High Priestess was un-phased. “And I know it because it does not work on other priestesses. I saw her go.”

“You didn’t stop her!” Kindra stood and looked at the door before turning back in desperation. “Why didn’t you stop her?”

“She will be back, Kindra.” The priestess had been expecting an outburst from the warrior and wasn’t startled. She motioned for Kindra to sit back down and she did so reluctantly.

“She will be back,” the High Priestess repeated, smoothing Kindra’s hand in her own. “She just needs time to mull over what has happened.”

“Why can’t she mull it over here?” Tears shimmered in Kindra’s hazel eyes. “Why did she leave me?”

“I’m sure Kaye felt she needed some time alone, to figure out who she really is.”

“She’s my sister!” Kindra cried. “She’s a priestess. What more does she need to know about herself?”

The High Priestess frowned. “Not everyone defines themselves by what they do, Kindra. Perhaps you should take this time apart to figure out who you are and what you want as well.”

It was a casual enough suggestion, but Kindra looked appalled. “I’m a warrior,” she said stiffly and stood, “and I want my sister back.”

Ok, not bad.  Not really all that compelling either.  Just the sort of scene you read and forget.  So let me show you my new precious – the scene that taught me how to really edit:

The woman emerged, calm and powerful as ever, and nodded Kindra inside. The warrior hated going into the tent of the High Priestess – it was always dim and smoky with incense – but she followed anyways. The priestess motioned her to have a seat. “You are looking for your sister?”

Kindra nodded. “She hasn’t come home for dinner and my mother is getting worried. Do you know where she is?”

The priestess’ face eased into a look of sympathy that set Kindra on edge, like the tense minutes just before the start of a battle. “Your sister has run away.”

“Run away? From Fie Eoin?” The battle to stay calm began as the High Priestess responded with a nod. “But we were guarding the perimeter all night and day. No one could have gone through – who let her through?”

The priestess shook her head. “No one. Kaye was using a form of energy control that made the conscious mind ignore her. As long as she didn’t address them directly, and they weren’t looking for her, they wouldn’t have realized she’d gone past. It’s very common among the priestesses – she’s been able to do it since she was nine.”

“What sort of priestess needs to sneak around like that?” Fear was turning to anger as Kindra realized the answer to her next question even as she asked it. “How do you know she did it?”

“We have our reasons.” The High Priestess was un-phased. “And I know it because it does not work on other priestesses. I saw her go.”

“And you didn’t stop her!” Kindra jumped up and looked at the door before turning back in desperation. “Why didn’t you stop her?”

“She will be back.” The priestess motioned for Kindra to sit back down, which she did reluctantly.

“She will be back,” the High Priestess repeated, smoothing Kindra’s hand in her own, probably trying to work some kind of priestess-magic to calm her down. “She just needs time to mull over what has happened.”

“Why can’t she mull it over here?” Tears burned in Kindra’s eyes. “Why did she leave me?”

“I’m sure Kaye felt she needed some time alone, to figure out who she really is.”

“She’s my sister.” Kindra ripped her hand away, cradling it to her chest as if it was injured. “She’s a priestess. What more does she need to know?”

The High Priestess frowned. “Not everyone defines themselves by what they do. Perhaps you should take this time apart to figure out who you are and what you want as well.”

It was a casual enough suggestion, but Kindra was appalled. “I’m a warrior,” she said stiffly and stood, “and I want my sister back.”

I know, it sounds really similar.  It is.  It’s nearly the same.  But the words are stronger, bringing images of a person ready to fight rather than ready to give up.  And the strong words continue into the next scene.  Instead of Kindra stumbling home and finding someone to cry to she grabs her spear and decides to go after Kaye.  Of course she doesn’t find her – isn’t even given the chance – but I’ve turned a scene in which things happen to Kindra into a scene in which Kindra is the one making things happen.

So tell me – what do you think? Is the scene stronger? Weaker? The same? Feel free to pop my bubble – it’s better to pop it now than later.

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Rebecca Enzor

Rebecca Enzor is a chemist in Charleston, SC who writes Young Adult and New Adult Fantasy and Magical Realism. Repped by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary.

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