It’s been a while so I’ll jump right into the fray. My friend Kim has continued her quest to edit my book, and these are the notes that she left for me in chapter five.
First we have Captain Ecks arrive at the pyramid via helicopter where he meets up with a mysterious stranger on the roof.
- Scanning the empty grandstands encircling the area, he spied a domed curve covering a wide flight of descending stairs.
- Kim – In the empty grandstands encircling the area. We already know he spied, don’t also need scanning.
I was going to argue that scanning is different from spying, but omitting one word does make the sentence more concise. And I love concise. Off to a great start!
- “A captain of the police,” the man in the long coat stated.
- Kim – This is weird dialogue. Can’t you just say something like, Captain Ecks, I presume. From your name tag I can plainly see. Or: His eyes flickered to the name tag. “Welcome, Captain Ecks.”
You think that’s weird but saying ‘From your name tag I can plainly see’ is normal. You goof. And Ecks wasn’t expected to be there so Tyle wouldn’t be welcoming him.
I do like your ‘eyes flicking to the nametag’ line though. I’ll put that in there.
- The man in the overcoat put a hand on his smooth, dimpled chin.
- Kim – Smooth and dimpled? How does that work?
Um, ya got me there! How about “The man in the overcoat put a hand on his chin: smooth, save for a dimple stuck square in the middle.”
Yeah, that works! And I get to put another colon in! Yes!
- The man in the overcoat moved, a low roll sounding under the hem of his coat.
- Kim – Not sure what this means. Is he on wheels?
Sheesh Kim I thought you read through the book once. Did you miss the chapter where Tyle rolls around on his wheel firing a rifle all over the place?
And if you didn’t then you’re supposed to wonder about the noise. It’s a mystery, like the mystery books you yourself write!
- “That’s my name,” Tyle confirmed, taking a backward glance at the captain.
- Kim – Name this man earlier so we don’t have two pages of “man in overcoat.” Why doesn’t he just introduce himself to Ecks?
Because he’s Tyle friggin’ Dhaston, heir to the Dhaston company. He’s arrogant, and he just expects everyone from Jesice to know who he is. And I think I’ll push his name reveal back even further just to annoy you!
Then again I’d rather not wait ten months for your next review so I think I’ll consider your wise advice.
Next they enter the hex door that leads to the pyramid’s interior. Parlay and Dring are waiting for them there.
- “Mr. Dhaston, welcome to the Imperial Pyramid––I’m Parlay.”
- Kim – Why are they calling him that now instead of Tyle? Is his name Tyle Dhaston?
Yes. Fine. You’ve convinced me! I’ll have Tyle do his whole “I’m Tyle Dhaston!” shtick up on the roof instead of waiting ’till chapter seven. There will be no sense of mystery or suspense, just endless introductions!
- “And my name is Dwing!”
- Kim – Need names earlier. Why doesn’t he introduce himself when they enter the room?
Because Parlay is his boss and he doesn’t want to speak before he does. Because his lisp keeps him from saying his own name correctly and he’s shy. Because I think you can wait ONE PAGE before someone tells you what their name is!
- “Be quiet,” the captain growled.
- Kim – Second time he’s growled recently.
Hm, I can’t find any other time he growled. Maybe he just needs a snickers.
- Tyle rolled his eyes, snorting, as Parlay pushed himself from the desk and stood.
- Kim – New sentence, new paragraph. Try to keep your beats paired with the dialogue.
This is something Kim already taught me, but I’ll put it here as an example of what not to do. These actions aren’t related to each other so there’s no reason for them to be in the same sentence.
- The captain backed into the office wall, facing all three, nodding with his stern face.
- Kim – Up to (not literally into the wall)
Oops, I didn’t even think about that. Why did you cross out his nodding though? That’s what police do right? They nod like “yeah you’re busted now.”
- Ecks stomped forward, taking one hand from the gun to grasp at a chain running across Parlay’s exposed neck. In one swift motion he tore the necklace away, then placed it around his own head; the locket fell below the armor’s olive neckline. “Now you have no choice––” the captain commanded, “show me how to use it if you want to be healed.”
- Kim – he fired with two hands?
Your suggestions about what to omit here are good, but yes you fire guns with two hands.
I probably need to add more details here now that I think of it. Like the shell being ejected so you know it was a real bullet.
- Parlay stood, his unblemished skin visible through the tear the bullet had made.
- Kim – unblemished? Didn’t he get shot? Or is that the reveal?
Yeah it’s the reveal that Parlay wasn’t hurt from the bullet. Do I need to go all “anime” with this? Have Ecks shout “You’re not hurt! But how!? That bullet should have pierced your skin!” Then Parlay dramatically steps out from a cloud of smoke:
Yeah, that works!
- “Our world?” Ecks uttered, backing into the wall.
- Kim – Didn’t he already back up to the wall? He’s doing it again?
I wrote that Ecks stomped forward two paragraphs ago so of course he can back up again! But yeah maybe I can have him do something else to indicate panic.
- “I didn’t want to scare Dwing when I first met him,” Parlay said, cornering the captain as he strolled forward.
- Kim – How can one person corner another?
Because there’s a corner there? Maybe it’s a metaphor and Parlay’s imposing presence has ‘cornered’ him. Or it could be a zen riddle. “How can one person corner another?” My book is so deep.
And now that Ecks has realized that his pistol is useless against Parlay, he calls for the helicopter remotely to fire upon the room that they’re in.
- “Oh geez,” Tyle uttered, inching back to the hall again. “They have a staccato?”
- Kim – He doesn’t seem that panicked about it. More mildly concerned.
He should also be mildly fascinated since he uses it later while rolling around on his ball.
- Tyle Dhaston wrinkled his dimpled chin at them.
- Kim – All this time calling him man in overcoat, and this is the first time we get his full name together. Have his full name at his intro. Not all the way down here.
- Also from Kim – How does one wrinkle their chin at someone?
It’s like One Piece, Kim. First we get a silhouette. Then maybe a few chapters of being called “that strong guy.” Then a month later we get a full page that features the character in detail with their full name and title.
But I already promised to change all that so it doesn’t really MATTER NOW DOES IT.
And if you press your lips together your chin will wrinkle. I’ll go back and describe it happening in such glorious detail that you will stare at your monitor with eyes open and chin wrinkling.
- He shuffled forward, his heavy boots slipping a bit on the rug as the smacking became quicker and rhythmic.
- Kim – Floor. Wouldn’t really slip on a rug.
Huh? The rug is sitting on top of a hard floor and Ecks is wearing armor. Even my little Shih Tzu Samson could make a rug slip if he was moving fast enough.
- “The ignorant die: it’s the sad truth on this world,” Parlay said, watching Ecks whimper and claw at his chest.
- Kim – can’t really watch a whimper
For the love of–what am I supposed to do then, Kim? Have Parlay listen to him whimper and THEN watch him claw at his chest? Do you really think that the reader is going to stop here and think “Wow! Parlay can see sound waves!”
I also saw your note to get rid of the colon. I think it fits though.
- The captain rocked his head backward and screamed, his arms jerking out to the side as the noises inside of him slowed and ceased.
Kim wants to change “rocked” to “flung” and put “slowed THEN ceased” instead of “and.” I’ll let you finish with a win this time, Kim.