Rewriting For Emphasis

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Using my unreleased manuscript An Angel On Her Shoulder, I am showing you my techniques for reworking a story into a more readable, more enjoyable piece. It’s 45+ lessons in about 45 days. (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE, the prior chapter is HERE)

To view it best, bring up the two versions in different windows and view them side by side to see what was changed.

Then give me your thoughts in the comment section.

 

Here’s what I did this time.

Not a lot.

It’s a short chapter and I just trimmed and rearranged some stuff.

But!

That can be important.

Also but!

I’m thinking Doug should NOT see the “blue lightning” on Officer Taggart’s face in the prior chapter. Why? It’s a spoiler so I’ll tell you below.

Maybe Doug shouldn’t hear the voices, either.

Hmm.


 

Chapter 6  “FINAL”

 

“Since I did the original rental car paperwork, I have to be the one to go get the replacement car.” Mallory lowed away. She knew I wouldn’t like that. On the other side of the hearth, our daughter munched on goldfish crackers and cheese sticks.

“What about their commercials?” I frowned. “Where they drive a car out to you?”

Mallory sighed. “We didn’t rent from that company.”

I stared at the fireplace and rubbed my forehead. What had started out to be such a nice day had really, really turned bad.

“I told the insurance company that our rental van was undriveable,” Mallory said. “We can get another rental—a sedan—in town, or they have another minivan at the airport.”

The airport was hours from here.

“They’ll have somebody from the local rental office drive me to their airport location.” She bit her nail. “What do you think we should do?”

There was only one thing to do. I shook my head. “With all the big suit cases we brought and all of the cases of wine we’ve been buying, it’ll never fit into a regular car. An SUV, sure. But a four door sedan?” I stared out the window at the smashed van. “There’s just no way.”

For a moment I thought about mentioning the officer volunteering to take one of us into town, but I decided against it. Something just didn’t sit right about that guy now, and if any other bizarre things were going to happen today, I didn’t want Mallory to face it by herself. “Anyway, I have to give a statement to the cops. Who knows how long it’s going to be before they get around to talking to me.”

The cards were dealt.

“Get to the airport. I’ll stay here with Sophie.” I watched as our daughter carefully inspecting the smile on the goldfish cracker’s face. “Maybe I can find a quiet place for her to nap.”

It wouldn’t be the first time she had slept under a tree at a winery. We had to empty the ruined van anyway, and the stroller was in there. That could work.

“Okay.” Mallory waved her cell phone. “I’ll have the local office pick me up. The lady at the cash register said they have a meeting room upstairs where you and Sophie can wait, if you want.”

I smiled at her as she dialed her phone and put it to her ear. She had it all figured out.

“It’s about three hours each way to the airport,” I reminded her. “It’s going to be a long day.”

She walked over and kissed me. “It’s already been a long day.”

I pulled her close. “Ask somebody where I can put all our stuff from the van.” I kissed her again, then I went down the hallway to the front doors.

It took several trips before the winery employees realized I was unloading our van into their lobby. Then, three of them joined in. They carried suitcases, toys, and competitors’ wines from our previous stops into the front hallway. I noticed the drab gray man standing there, as still as a statue, staring out the window. He had been driving the pickup truck.

As I carried the final suitcase inside, I stopped momentarily to address the old man. He seemed like a poor old winery employee who had suffered a mini stroke or something, and just lost control of the truck.

He was the same one who had almost run me over in the lobby with the dolly full of wine cases. But I wanted to be sure that the paramedics hadn’t missed anyone who needed treatment. Maybe I wanted to set a good example for my daughter, even if she wasn’t paying attention. I knew from my father that sometimes people can cause a wreck, act fine afterwards, and then go home and die from a post-trauma coronary. For some reason, I felt compelled to make sure that wouldn’t happen to this poor old guy. A low level employee that was having a bad enough day already, he was surely feeling awful about the wreck he had caused, and the injuries.

“How are you holding up, fella?” I asked.

The old man turned and glared at me. I almost took a step backward. It was a fierce, hateful look. His old weathered face was drawn and angry.

I regained myself and persisted. “Are you all right?” It was my friendliest demeanor. “We don’t need a heart attack happening to you, y’know?”

The old man just stared blankly at me.

“You were driving the gray pickup truck, right?”

His eyes narrowed. “Probably just result in another damned lawsuit.”

I blinked, dropping my jaw. “Excuse me?”

“Them tourists.” The old man turned his back to the window, muttering. “Some people just need to learn how to leave.”

I was shocked. I expected a sympathetic response. Some remorse, not anger. It was an odd reaction after almost having killed a few people. Need to learn how to leave? What did that mean?

A gray haired woman appeared in the hallway. “I’m Mrs. Hill. Would you like to store your things in our office?” Her southern upbringing and hospitality were as warming as the old man’s were cold. “They’ll be safer there.”

It was a nice gesture but also a way to get the suitcases and boxes out of their hallway, where customers might trip over them. And to keep me from talking further with her employees. I accepted.

Mrs. Hill made small talk as I moved our cases of wine. The genuine article, she was a sweet woman. I was in no rush to do anything since I figured I had at least five hours on my hands. Sophie was asleep in her stroller. I had time to chat.

We talked about Mrs. Hill’s grown daughter, and how enjoyable life was when her girl was Sophie’s age. “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of work.” She sat back in her office chair, smiling. “But mostly it’s a lot of fun.”

I nodded. “It is. It’s been a lot of fun.” I placed the last box down and found an empty chair for myself. “Does your daughter work here with you now?”

Somehow, I already knew the answer. Of all the wineries we had visited over the years, few were able to interest their children in the business. Almost none. It was the same story every time. The kids worked in the winery growing up, but as soon as they were able to get out, they did.

For most winery owners, the winemaking business was something they got into later in life. The fulfillment of a dream. For the kids, however, it was a life of constant drudgery. Millions of bottles to be washed, labels to affix . . . hot days in the fields weeding and pruning and spraying. It was a life of constant work—hard work—with almost none of the benefits. The kids were had to cancel plans and fill in when an employee called out sick or quit, but they couldn’t have a glass of wine afterwards. And the work was never ending. Year round, there was some musty, sticky task to do. Wine was fun for customers, not for the “winery brats” or winery rats, as they often referred to themselves.

“My daughter helps with the register now and then on weekends, but she has her own life.” Gazing at the scowling gray statue in the hallway, Mrs. Hill let out a quiet sigh. “Mostly it’s just me and Mr. Hill.” A pained, remorseful smile moved over her mouth. “As far as family goes.”

It hadn’t dawned on me until then. The drab gray man with the scowl—the driver of the truck—was Mr. Hill, the owner of Hillside winery.

 


Original Chapter 6, An Angel On Her Shoulder

 

While our daughter snacked on goldfish crackers and cheese sticks, Michele and I discussed our options.

 

“I told the insurance company that our rental van was undriveable,” Michele said. “We can get another rental car in town, or we can go to the airport and get another minivan. They say they have one.”

 

I frowned. “What about their commercials where they drive a car out to you?”

 

“We didn’t rent from that company.” She sighed. What had started out to be such a nice day had really, really turned bad. She looked at her me. “Since I did the original rental car paperwork, I have to be the one to go get the replacement car.” She knew I wouldn’t like that.

 

“Somebody from the local rental office will drive me to their airport location,” Michele continued. “What do you think we should do?”

 

There was only one thing to do. “We can’t fit all our stuff into a regular car now,” I said. “With all the big suitcases and now all of these cases of wine we’ve been buying, it’s never going to fit into a regular car. An SUV, yes; a four door sedan, no.”

 

I looked out the window to their smashed van and shook his head. “There’s just no way.”

 

For a moment I thought about mentioning the officer volunteering to take one of us into town, but I decided against it. Something just didn’t sit right about that guy now, and if any other bizarre things were going to happen today, I didn’t want Michele to face it by herself.

 

“Besides,” I continued, “I have to stay here and give a statement to the cops. Who knows how long it’s going to be before they get around to talking to me.”

 

The cards were dealt.

 

“You get to the airport and rent a new van; I’ll stay here with Savvy.” I looked at our daughter, who was carefully inspecting the smile on the goldfish cracker’s face. “Maybe I can find a quiet place to get her to take a nap.” It wouldn’t be the first time she had napped under a tree at a winery. We had to empty the van anyway, and the stroller was in there. That could work.

 

“Okay,” Michele said. “I’ll call the local car rental office and have them pick me up. The lady at the cash register said that they have a meeting room upstairs where you and Savvy can wait, if you want.”

 

I smiled at her as she dialed her phone and put it to her ear. She had it all figured out.

 

“It’s about three hours each way to the airport,” I reminded her. “It’s going to be a long day.”

 

She walked over and kissed me. “It’s already been a long day.”

 

I pulled her close. “Ask somebody where I can put all our stuff from the car,” I said, kissing her back. Then I went across the down the hallway to the front doors.

 

It took several trips before the winery employees realized I was unloading our van into their lobby. Then, three of them joined in. They carried suitcases, toys, and competitors wines from our previous stops into the front hallway. I noticed the drab gray man standing there, as still as a statue, staring out the window. He had been driving the pickup truck.

 

As I made the final trip, I stopped momentarily to address the old man. He seemed like a poor old winery employee who had suffered a mini stroke or something, and just lost control of the truck.

 

He was the same one who had almost run me over in the lobby with the dolly full of wine cases. But I wanted to be sure that the paramedics hadn’t missed anyone who needed treatment. Maybe I wanted to set a good example for my daughter, even if she wasn’t paying attention. I knew from my father that sometimes people can cause a wreck, act fine afterwards, and then go home and die from a post trauma heart attack. For some reason, I felt compelled to make sure that wouldn’t happen to this poor old guy. A low level employee that was having a bad enough day already, he was surely feeling bad about the wreck he had caused, and the injuries.

 

“How are you holding up, fella?” I asked cordially.

 

The old man turned and glared at him. I almost took a step back. It was a fierce, hateful look. His old weathered face was drawn and angry.

 

I regained myself and persisted. “Are you all right?” I asked, as friendly as I could. “We don’t need a heart attack happening to you, y’know?”

 

The old man just stared blankly at him.

 

“You were driving the gray pickup truck, right?”

 

The old man’s eyes narrowed. “Probably just result in another damned lawsuit.”

 

That answer came as a surprise. “Excuse me?”

 

“Them tourists,” the old man said in a low growl. Then he turned back to the window and whispered. “Some people just need to learn how to leave.”

 

I was shocked. I expected a sympathetic response. Some remorse, not anger. It was an odd reaction after almost having killed a few people. Need to learn how to leave? What did that mean?

 

Mrs Hill appeared in the hallway. “Would you like to store your things in our office?” she asked politely. “They’ll be safer there.” Southern charm. It was a nice gesture and a way to get the suitcases and boxes out of their hallway, where customers might trip over them. And to keep me from talking further with her employee. I accepted.

 

Mrs Hill made small talk as I moved our cases of wine. Mrs Hill was the genuine article, a sweet woman. I was in no rush to do anything since I figured I had at least five hours on my hands. Savvy was asleep. I had time to chat.

 

She talked about her grown daughter, and how much she remembered from when her daughter was Savvy’s age. “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of work,” she said. Then she smiled, knowingly. “But mostly it’s a lot of fun.”

 

I nodded. “It is. It’s been a lot of fun.” I placed the last box down and looked at Mrs Hill. “Does your daughter work here with you now?”

 

Somehow, I already knew the answer. Of all the wineries we had visited over the years, few were able to interest their children in the business. Almost none. It was the same story every time. The kids worked in the winery growing up, but as soon as they were able to get out, they did. For most winery owners, the winemaking business was something they got into later in life. The fulfillment of a dream. For most of their kids, however, it was a life of constant drudgery. Millions of bottles to be washed, labels to affix… hot days in the sun planting vines or pruning them, weeding under the grapes or spraying pesticides over them. It was a life of constant work, with almost none of the benefits; the kids were summoned to fill in and perform all the menial tasks that whoever didn’t show up for work didn’t do, but they couldn’t have a glass of wine afterwards. And the work was never ending. Year round, there was some musty, sticky task to do. Wine was fun, but not for the kids.

 

“No,” Mrs Hill said from her desk. “Not really. She helps with the register now and then on weekends, but she has her own life.” She gazed over at the scowling gray statue in the hallway. “Mostly it’s just me and Mr Hill.” Then she looked back at me and smiled. “As far as family goes.”

 

It hadn’t dawned on me until then. The drab gray man with the scowl, the driver of the truck, was Mr Hill, the owner.


ANALYSIS

Okay, so we have some dramatic irony – where readers know who Mr. Hill is but the character doesn’t.

Also, I want to address a dilemma.

Should Doug  see the blue lightning on Taggart’s face when the officer comes over to ask for a statement? I think no. And this is why beta readers come in handy, but as author types I’ll let you peek behind the curtain.

SPOILER ALERT!!

SPOILER AHEAD!

Later, we learn Doug’s little girl sees the blue lightning, too. I think it will be MUCH more horrifying to Doug when he realizes SHE sees it, so maybe we shouldn’t have Doug see it here, with Taggart.

I would say more but it’ll totally ruin it for you, so I won’t – yet. But you’ll love it when we get there. (Also, I’m wondering if this story is taking too long to get where it’s going. You can’t tell yet, so I won’t ask, but when we’re done maybe you can opine.)

Anyway, right now Doug seeing the blue lightning is in there. We’ll ask beta readers which is better, and trusted CPs, and we’ll make a decision then.

But this is a HUGE part of storytelling! I can’t emphasize that enough.

Have the big explosive stuff out there – but you have to learn WHEN to let your reader discover it.

That comes with practice, but it’s a shorter learning curve when you discuss is with friends – author type friends.

For example, in The Navigators 2 story outline, we have a character get killed so the friends will want to use the time machine to go back in time and rescue him/her- thereby letting the bad guys know where the time machine is.

What if Barry (one of the good guys) gets killed by Findlay (the bad guy)? Melissa (the hero) would go back to save him.

Hmm.

What if Barry and Melissa are newlyweds?

Interesting. Go on.

What if Melissa gets killed? Barry would definitely go back to save her.

Yeah…

What if Findlay points a gun at Barry and Barry doesn’t react, so Findlay kills Melissa in front of Barry?

Ooh, that’s bad.

 

What if she were pregnant at the time?

Ooh, that’s way bad!!

 

Murdering a pregnant woman is pretty evil. How bad do we want Findlay to be?

See? This is what you get to decide. Letting Doug see the blue lightning is intriguing. Letting him NOT see it (with Taggart) and then learning that his daughter did, that’s WAY more intense.

Adjust your settings and play the piano that is your audience.

 

Now:

head shot
your humble host

Let me have your comments. The next chapter will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15, so don’t dawdle! (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE, the prior chapter is HERE)

You are readers, too. Your input will shape the final product. Be honest.

Please share and reblog these as we go. Your friends need to know this stuff, too.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

7 thoughts on “Rewriting For Emphasis

  1. You make such an excellent point. I’ve always felt the hard part about writing isn’t so much the writing as it is the timing because knowing when to reveal information is the mark of a good story teller. That is why its so important to be in a writing community of some kind. It hones those skills. I enjoyed reading! Thank you for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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