Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#1
Title says it all.

Give me your janky, clunky, frustratingly evasive paragraph to edit. If possible, I will provide a short explanation of what's going on with it in my view as an editor. I will do as many as I reasonably can this week, so first come first serve. I think this would be a good exercise for you and I both, and I'm willing to play ball.

My only ask is that you keep it to a single paragraph!

Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#4

L.R. Wrote: It's either very terse, or you're exploring a new frontier of style!
I think the correct word is exploit... meh. I don't really have a paragraph that is giving me problems... it's the first three chapters that are giving me problems, but since this is a paragraph only offer:

The building they were aiming for was a little bit different. The Guild. It was founded by a group of people that wanted to have fun a long time ago, and it has since expanded to a worldwide non-political organization that encourages people to explore the dungeons and that helps to identify the strongest of the strong through ranks and missions. That's where they were heading, that's where their future was, and Kan intended to become one of the best there. He wanted to surpass the common stop point, the Gold rank, and become a Diamond rank, the elite of the elite that can even put kings on their toes not to insult him and cause a disaster.

Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#5

Alaqi Wrote:
Revised paragraph:
The building they were aiming for was a little bit different: the Guild. Founded long ago by a group of people seeking [danger and thrills], it had since expanded into a worldwide non-political organization. Now, the Guild encouraged exploration and delving of the dungeons [below]. Experts in the Guild's employ worked to identify the strongest of the strong through complicated ranks and [challenging] missions.

Their future lay there, at the Guild. Kan had every intention of surpassing the common stop point, Gold rank, and earning [his?] Diamond rank. Then [he] would stand among the best of them; the elite of the elite that put even kings on their toes.

Just as a note, the [bracketed] words are words I added to clarify meaning for myself, but they may not fit the story, or your tone. I did change language elsewhere, but those are outright additions on my behalf.

So, I see what you're going for here. The Guild (an adventuring guild? Not having context actually helps with this exercise because I'm focused on the language) was a fun hang out until it grew into something much bigger and more powerful. Now, it provides a variety of services to civilization, and its top ranks stand shoulder to shoulder with other elites of society. However, you had two paragraphs going in one, here. There was a bit of back history about the Guild, and a bit of character motivation for Kan. Note that the character's pronoun is left a default-vague [his] and [he] in the second paragraph. Because those have separate core ideas, I broke them into two, but kept a grammatical structure in common with the first sentences a linguistic link between them. The shorter second paragraph is kosher because the reader can imbue a lot of implied meaning behind the stated motivation, especially if they have existing genre knowledge.

There were some other grammatical points I cleaned up and simplified, such as the clause " That's where they were heading, that's where their future was," because it's a restatement of the initial sentence in the (original, now first) paragraph. The reader already knows they're headed to the Guild. The framing, "thats xxxxx, that's" is also a bit repetitive, when read aloud, but I do understand the conversational tone you were striking with the narration. To preserve that, I repurposed the bit about their future as a jump into Kan's motivation for wanting to be there. Further in, I simplified the language around the Gold and Diamond rank as well. The reader is probably familiar with this type of genre and can fill in gaps here; it reminded me of Hunter X Hunter, personally. I shortened a few other sentences as well. Keep in mind that a the longer a sentence, the harder it is to track the action and purpose. Staccato, short sentences can be annoying, too, but they're certainly easier to navigate than labyrinthine lines.

Finally, as a structural point you might consider, you have a verb tense shift after the second sentence. The paragraph began in the passive present tense "were aiming for", shifts to past tense "wanted to have fun," and then shifts back to present tense for the remainder of that fairly long, expository sentence. It isn't quite a run on, but verb tense is tricky and with complicated sentences, is hard to pin down. I shifted the revised paragraph all into past tense to better fit the idea that you're expressing the back history of the Guild. You want to make sure that your verb tenses are all the same, particularly within a paragraph, but generally within a text, too. Characters might speak like things are happening presently, but the entire frame of a story might be past tense, allowing just dialogue (and occasionally action heavy or descriptive sentences) to slip out of that past tense frame to give the narrative voice a sense of immediacy.

Does that help?


Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#8
I’m having difficultly editing in general, I think it’s since I’m still trying to work on an interesting voice. I did give a sentence and paragraph (hope you don’t mind) due to this being the first paragraph:


 I flinched as the flicker of fire danced in my palm. 

Whenever I summon fire, the vivid image of my body engorged by it consumes my mind; of my skin smoking and bubbling, until settling as ash. Thankfully, my own power couldn’t harm me. A man may barely mind a small bite from an ember, but… creatures like I could meet our true death from a touch of flame. The fire rolled off of my hand onto the kindling, becoming non-magical as it grew and cracked, the snow becoming steam that twirled with the smoke. I backed away, to where the bright, orange light nearly faded into the darkness of dusk.

Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#9

Bird Wrote: Revised paragraph (and sentence):

I flinched as the flicker of fire danced in my palm. 

Whenever I summoned fire, my mind was engulfed by a vision of hell: my body, consumed by fire, my skin smoking and bubbling, cracking and bursting with tongues of wildfire, until I was nothing more than cold, settled ash. Thankfully, my own power couldn’t harm me. The fire rolled off of my hand onto the kindling. It caught instantly, growing and crackling, suddenly and almost painfully hot. Around the [twigs], the snow melted into steam that danced with the smoke. I eased back to the edge of the leaping light, and released my hold of the fire. The bright orange melded with the cold, fading dusk.


I think we can let it slide ;)
Alright, here's my shot at editing this paragraph (and a sentence). So, the gist I got from this particular passage is that some sort of fire-inclined mage is out in the wilderness, in the stark cold, and is setting a fire. The character is either afraid of what his or her power might do to them, or they're familiar with the grotesque and hellish effects fire can wreak on the...human canvas. There are two sentences in the original paragraph that I honestly didn't follow, which could very well just be a "my subjective reading missed an intonation," and not "this doesn't add up/is crap." This often happens when we're experimenting with tone and style, so perhaps you can explain them to me, and I can take another crack at integrating them if you feel they're necessary to your vision.

The two sentences in question are:
  • A man may barely mind a small bite from an ember, but… creatures like I could meet our true death from a touch of flame
  • backed away, to where the bright, orange light nearly faded into the darkness of dusk.
In the latter sentence's case I did try to integrate it, because it seemed like a cinematic/visually oriented sentence, but the original phrasing read like the character backed way up, and that wasn't what I thought the intent was behind the sentence. Just that they're no longer sitting right on top of the fire. I added a mention in about the fire becoming "suddenly and painfully hot" to justify backing up that far. As someone who just almost lost their eyebrows to a stack of extremely flammable pine boughs while camping, I get it. Fire hot!

The other major change I made here was the initial few sentences. I got, implicitly, the vision you were going for. I cranked up the gruesome factor a bit, and shuffled the clauses. In the original sentence, it started with a dependent clause, which was fine (this sentence starts with one!), but is followed by the predicate to another dependent clause, and then some additional descriptive noun phrases. The sentence lacked a central post. I restructured it to read: dependent clause, independent (subject, predicate), noun phrases. I also took the liberty of choosing a few more hellish overtones to push the "woof" factor of the fire vision a bit. This also had the effect of fixing a slight tensing error between the original dependent clauses, and brings everything more into line with the tone established in the first line.

Does that help?



Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#10

L.R. Wrote:
Bird Wrote: Revised paragraph (and sentence):

I flinched as the flicker of fire danced in my palm. 

Whenever I summoned fire, my mind was engulfed by a vision of hell: my body, consumed by fire, my skin smoking and bubbling, cracking and bursting with tongues of wildfire, until I was nothing more than cold, settled ash. Thankfully, my own power couldn’t harm me. The fire rolled off of my hand onto the kindling. It caught instantly, growing and crackling, suddenly and almost painfully hot. Around the [twigs], the snow melted into steam that danced with the smoke. I eased back to the edge of the leaping light, and released my hold of the fire. The bright orange melded with the cold, fading dusk.
Does that help?
Thank you! And I understood the explanation about the grammatical changes (I feel like I need to go back to school now lol)


 Also I should have explained some things earlier, forgive me. For additional context (especially to the first line of confusion) my character is a vampire, and in my world the are more flammable then regular people, but not to a point where they immediately ignite like paper. 

For the second sentence, she did back up before the fire could harm her. 

For more context to the character for this paragraph, despite her vampirism she lit the fire to essentially feel less lonely in the cold wilderness. I didn’t want to say outright in the text that she is a vampire since she dislikes being one.


I hope this helps. 

Thank you again!

Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#11
No problem; glad it helped. Teaching grammar has helped "embed it" in my mind, and in turn has really awoken me to the intricacies of how we communicate. You can lead a reader along by the nose by making them wait for the independent clause that gives meaning to an entire passage...or you can set up their expectations and knock them down. I like to tell my students that the vocabulary we use to talk about language is chunky and ugly, but once you get the concepts, you can forget their names and work on instinct pretty well.

The flammable vampire certainly sheds "light" on the situation, then. Perhaps revising that initially confusing line to say, "A mortal might be burned by an ember, but for a creature like myself, the barest spark could spell the end." Alternatively, if this is just the very beginning of your story, perhaps that detail can emerge later, more naturally, and give the reader pause when they reflect on how quickly the MC scuttles back from the flame. A revision on the revision might now read:


Quote:I flinched as the flicker of fire danced in my palm. 

Whenever I summoned fire, my mind was engulfed by a vision of hell: my body, consumed by fire, my skin smoking and bubbling, cracking and bursting with tongues of wildfire, until I was nothing more than cold, settled ash. Thankfully, my own power couldn’t harm me. The fire rolled off of my hand onto the kindling. It caught instantly, growing and crackling, suddenly and almost painfully hot. I eased back until I was sitting at the very edge of the leaping light, and released my hold of the [magic].


A mortal might be burned by an ember, and carry no more than a scar. But for creatures like me, the barest spark could spell the end. Yet, the vivid light of that newborn flame was my only companion as the dusk faded to icy, bitter night.


Maybe that's more what you were going for?

Re: Give me your clunky paragraph to edit

#12

L.R. Wrote: No problem; glad it helped. Teaching grammar has helped "embed it" in my mind, and in turn has really awoken me to the intricacies of how we communicate. You can lead a reader along by the nose by making them wait for the independent clause that gives meaning to an entire passage...or you can set up their expectations and knock them down. I like to tell my students that the vocabulary we use to talk about language is chunky and ugly, but once you get the concepts, you can forget their names and work on instinct pretty well.

The flammable vampire certainly sheds "light" on the situation, then. Perhaps revising that initially confusing line to say, "A mortal might be burned by an ember, but for a creature like myself, the barest spark could spell the end." Alternatively, if this is just the very beginning of your story, perhaps that detail can emerge later, more naturally, and give the reader pause when they reflect on how quickly the MC scuttles back from the flame. A revision on the revision might now read:


Quote:I flinched as the flicker of fire danced in my palm. 

Whenever I summoned fire, my mind was engulfed by a vision of hell: my body, consumed by fire, my skin smoking and bubbling, cracking and bursting with tongues of wildfire, until I was nothing more than cold, settled ash. Thankfully, my own power couldn’t harm me. The fire rolled off of my hand onto the kindling. It caught instantly, growing and crackling, suddenly and almost painfully hot. I eased back until I was sitting at the very edge of the leaping light, and released my hold of the [magic].


A mortal might be burned by an ember, and carry no more than a scar. But for creatures like me, the barest spark could spell the end. Yet, the vivid light of that newborn flame was my only companion as the dusk faded to icy, bitter night.


Maybe that's more what you were going for?
Yeah it is! Thank you for this, especially the tips!