Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Forest For the Trees or Info Dump

Sorry for my absence from the blog but I left the power cables for laptop behind in Cornwall...it was like not having my arms and then to catch up on everything....

You would think by now that I would see obvious writing mistakes printed out in black and white in front of me easily - now I'm not talking about typos (my speciality) but, well let's not beat around the bush here - information dumping....show not tell

Yesterday I was finally pulling together the new first chapter for PENDEROWN. I had played with the opening page until I felt i had set the mood right and first scene said all I wanted it to say (I'll come back to this) and then I pasted in the Victoria's first scene. Now this is where my alarms bells were ringing - my alarm bells not those of my IV (inner voice - thank you Annie). You see - Victoria's opening scene is explicit and my inner prude panicked - it said 'you can't have a sex scene on page three and definitely not one like that'. However my IV said yes you can and it's right and it's right for your character....inner battle ensued. In desperation because i just couldn't move on I called on friends.....who of course had no problem at all with said scene. IV wins but Biddy quite rightly pointed out the lovely info dump below that pulled her straight out of the story and if I'm honest IV was trying to tell me about it but the prude in me was too overpowering.

So here's what happened when I took info dump (see above - scene saying all I wanted it to say in one paragraph!!!)

She checked her emails again and there was still nothing from Adam Smith and Associates. It had been a week and a day since she had received the email informing her she was on the shortlist for the trainee position, but they hadn’t told her how many were on it with her only that she had made it out of the thousand applicants. She should be pleased, she knew she should. She wanted this job. It was perfect and here in Toronto. If she landed it then it would become the doorway to a successful career in architecture hence the thousand applicants. But...she chewed her lower lip and slowed her steps. If the answer was yes she wouldn’t be able to make the trip to Europe and well, she would have to decline the offer of a place at Falmouth School of Art for a Masters in Art & Environment, which she knew was just a dream anyway.


and then after reminding myself I should know better by now and remembering Jan Jones's wonderful post on show not tell.....this is what the new looked like (but remember it is still to be worked on)....

Demi jumped when her phone rang. Matt's photo flashed on the screen with his big grin. “Hi."

“Hello beautiful.”

Demi rolled her eyes. They were just words. If only she felt he actually meant it. “What’s up?”

“Just booked our tickets to Europe.”

“No, no you can’t have.” Demi swallowed. “I haven’t heard about the job.”

“Don’t mean to burst your bubble, but yes you made the short list out of a thousand but no way will you make the final cut.”

“Thanks for your belief in me.”

“But I do believe in you and that’s why you should forget the boring job and follow your heart to Cornwall and to the masters you want.”

She closed her eyes and took a breath. She couldn’t reason with him. She had a tough enough time doing that with herself. “Please tell me you haven’t actually booked flights.”

“Relax. I’ve just reserved them.”

“How long will they hold them?”

“Two days.”

“Good. Give me until then.”

Matt was hopeless but she was worse. Bloody dreamers both.She put her toe in and out of a puddle and watched the ripples before she checked her emails again to find there was still nothing from Adam Smith and Associates. It had been a week and a day since she had received the email informing her she was on the shortlist. She should be pleased, she knew she should. She wanted this job. It was perfect and here in Toronto. If she landed it then it would become the doorway to a successful career in architecture.

Thunder rumbled in the distance. The storm would be here shortly but not yet. Demi’s eyes traced the outline of the one houses that had been ‘improved’ from a humble bungalow to a grand residence. Her nose twitched. It didn’t fit the neighbourhood but she was sure it had been what the clients had requested. Was life always like that?

She chewed her lower lip and slowed her steps. If the she was accepted then she wouldn’t be able to make the trip and well, she would have to decline the offer of a place at Falmouth School of Art for a Masters in Art & Environment. It was just a dream anyway and one her mother hadn’t shared for her.

10 comments:

Biddy said...

Much much better!! Glad to have helped.

liz fenwick said...

Biddy you helped immensely - it might have taken me weeks to spot it or to come back to it! It's not quite right yet but it is much much better as you say :-)

lx

Liz Harris said...

The second version brought the text alive. It was great.

Liz X

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Liz - not great but certainly a hell of a lot better :-)

lx

Debs said...

The second version was great. I'm now off to read Jan's post.

Sally Clements said...

Liz, its very comforting to know everyone has those info dump moments, and its not just me! And you sorted it perfectly. Bravo!

Chris Stovell said...

Fantastic! Such a difference! Oh, the pesky info dump trap is one that lurks in wait for any of us, but- phew! - that's what rewrites are for.

liz fenwick said...

Sally - thanks. I am seeing it everywhere as i cull through the first draft - but then that's what a first draft is for me...getting the story out which means loads of info dump :-)

Chris - yes thank God for rewrites and this time I am truly embracing the rewrite and changing my mind set from it's a burden to it's a pleasure.

lx

Barrie said...

amazing what a difference it makes. I often don't spot the "tell" until revisions.

liz fenwick said...

Barrie - so pleased I'm alone in seeing them until that stage!
lx