Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Whale Below: Tuesday's output

I had a number of different things to deal with last night--some of writerly import, some not--but I was happy to eventually turn my attention to "The Whale Below" roundabout midnight, since I hadn't touched it for close to a week. I'd given it a bit of back-of-the-mind thought during Armadillocon, and was pretty clear on elements I wanted to change and rework. I've learned my lesson, to some degree, after leaving all those errors creep into Wetsilver unchallenged. So I dove into "The Whale Below" with gusto, changing the viewpoint character (major course correction, that one) and adding small, telling details throughout while cutting large swaths of description that bog things down. I really, really want to keep this story lean and tight, as my natural inclination as a writer is a more sprawling, kudzu-style prose. Here's a sample of last night's labors:
The grapples lashed out in rapid-fire cadence. The great barbed prongs
speared the smaller airships, easily piercing the outer envelopes to find
solid purchase within the superstructure. The cables tightened. The
grappling teams winched their prey to La Aspiva. Timbers groaned as the
whalers bellied up against La Aspiva's hull. Matchlocks hot and rapiers
drawn, the five boarding parties--three men each--slid across on tethers hooked
to the cables.

"I'm not hearing any killing. Why am I not hearing any killing?" demanded
Capitan Valdez. "There's always some heroes amongst the fishchasers. They
always complicate what should otherwise be a simple--"

"Mateo's signalling from the pilot house of his whaler," Magda said, leaning
forward against the glass windscreen for a better view. She frowned. "He's
shouting something." She unlatched the screen and pushed it open.

"--deserted," Mateo called out. "The whole damn ship's empty."

When all the cuts are subtracted and new stuff added, total wordcount only went up by about a page or so. Not a lot of progress, but the story's got much stronger legs now. Fingers are crossed that it will come in at under 5,000 words, I'll finish it up before long, and it will dazzle those steely-eyed vultures when I take it to Turkey City next month.

Now Playing: Robert Plant Now and Zen

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