That said, please welcome Pepper D. Basham, one of our spunkiest and most supportive Seeker friends and commenters. Pepper is a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, pastor's wife, university instructor in Communicative Disorders and writes a fabulous blog that you really need to check out -- Faith and Fiction on Fire. When she's not sleeping, she's creating fictional worlds where good defeats evil, laughter reigns, and adventures grow faith. She won the Award of Excellence in Christian Literature at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and was a finalist in the Golden Rose in 2009. Her current writing motto is "Write in the moment, you're not promised the next ten minutes without someone 'needing' you." Her long-term goal, besides getting published someday, is to fulfill her mother's greatest dream: Get her PhD so she can be called Dr. Pepper.
Whew! When it comes to Pepper Basham, she fits the Dr. Pepper slogan to a T -- "There's Just More To It!" Without further ado, I give you, "Dr. Pepper" ...
The Soul's Internal Editor
A little over a month ago I hired someone to do a line-edit on my work-in-progress, The Thornbearer. It’s always a bit unnerving to become vulnerable to someone else’s critique, offering my infant-manuscript to be sliced, diced, and redressed (just kidding, actually she was very kind).
But the truth still remains. I paid her to edit my work. I paid her to provide constructive criticism. I paid her to point out my weaknesses. (I can think of a few people who do all those things on a regular basis and don’t get paid one cent. You know who you are). :)
Did her corrections sting?
Sure, especially since I thought my writing was pretty near perfection.
Did I want to throw my work in the trashcan?
Momentarily, because of the overwhelming task of fixing it and feeling like I’d NEVER get things right – but then I swallowed down my orange-sized pride and dug the manuscript out of the rubbish pile.
Did I want to ignore it?
Yes, and actually I did for a little while, but chocolate made everything better.
Did I mention I paid for this?
The editor was encouraging too. Shared my strengths as well as my weaknesses. Told me that it’s a good story with great potential.
She’s a good editor, to the point, but in a kind way. I appreciate that. She didn’t cut any corners, sugarcoat my weaknesses, or try and smooth over the rough edges. How would I improve as a writer if she did that? She was only doing her job, and the things she suggested – I NEEDED to hear.
If I choose not to listen to valuable instruction, I’ll refuse to grow as a writer….
and as a person.
It’s a lot like the Holy Spirit.
Until Christ comes to live in our hearts, there is no editor of our souls. We choose what’s right in our own eyes. We write our own life-scenes and hope for the best.
But then the Holy Spirit shows up. The soul’s Internal Editor. He’s consistent, faithful, honest, and waiting with His metaphorical pen to right the wrongs of our heart’s story.
The warmth of His comfort wraps around us in our trials, the strength of His assurance spurs us forward into the next day, the faithfulness of His love encourages us to be honest and to run to the Father with our soiled pages of life.
Does His correction sting?
Sometimes it does, especially when we don’t want to change our ways or we are particularly guilty. After all, we do think we’re pretty perfect. :)
Do we ever want to throw in the towel and say, “I can’t do this?”
Yep, but it’s all about His faithfulness – not ours. He holds us, He helps us, and He’s the one who provides the pen for us to rewrite the attitudes of our hearts. We WILL fail, but we never fall so far He cannot pull us out of the rubbish bin and into His embrace. In all truth, it’s not about us, it’s about Him.
Do we ever want to ignore Him?
Um…duh! Who wants to hear criticism? But He’s persistent and keeps reminding us of the stories He wants to write with our lives, stories far beyond what we could ever imagine.
In fact, our stories have already been edited in full. And the cost?
Paid for by Jesus.
He took our mutilated, ripped, and filthy rough draft and gave us His finished copy instead. He put OUR names in His book. As the Holy Spirit continues to edit our lives, the pages of our stories have already been cleaned up and placed within the Book of Life.
It is finished.
And it’s a BEST SELLER, all because of Jesus.
So today, as you share in this wonderful place called Seekerville, answer two questions:
1. What part of your writing requires the most editing?
2. What part of your heart requires the most editing?
In writing? I struggle with too many adjectives…well, probably too many words in particular. I can’t seem to write a book that’s less than 100,000 words I’ve also realized, through this edit, that I wasn’t getting into deep POV.
For me, God has to remind me of His control, when all seems out of control. When I don’t get MY time, or I feel misunderstood or not appreciated, He has to bring his Holy Spirit pen into my heart and scribble away at my anger and selfishness. He reminds me that He always sees what no one else sees, and He’s making note of it in the Book of Ages. So, the BIG story of my life is being written by scenes and chapters that HE sees, steps of growth in the tiny details of everyday.
So…for editing of the soul, it takes Jesus.
For editing of our writing, it takes other people. More knowledgeable people.
--> Let me give you a list of some befores and afters from some the edited manuscript to make my writing point.
Concise – definition – expressing or covering much in few words; brief in form, but comprehensive in scope.
Her breath tripped on a gasp and the sounds around her faded to silence. A chill trembled through her like frigid wind on wet flesh, grappling air into an icy knot lodged in the center of her chest. Here? Of all places?
As someone said recently, my love of words is obvious, “which is a nice way of saying AX some of them.” (You know who you are ;-) To increase the punch of these sentences, what if I just took out a few extraneous words.
Her breath tripped on a gasp and sounds around her faded to silence. A chill trembled through her like frigid wind on wet flesh. Michael? Here?
Here’s another – a bit longer.
She cleared her throat and bent to retrieve one of her small bags from the pier. “Did Grandmama pay for your ticket?”
His smile faded and he rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, a slight hint of pink sliding onto his cheeks. “I offered to pay for it, but— ”
Ashleigh’s laugh burst out of her so unexpectedly she shocked herself. “Oh dear, she was desperate.”
“I haven’t heard your laugh in a while.” Sam’s voice slid to a softer tone, coaxing her closer. “I’ve missed it.”
Something cautious and hard inside her chest melted under the compassion in his gaze. She wanted to trust him completely, anchor her faith in the kindness of another man, drown in the friendship he offered within his sun-soaked blue eyes, but her spirit wavered. Memories suffocated hope, reminding her of whom she was…and who betrays. Men. Men like Michael? Or her father?
Okay, I like the last paragraph and just put it in there for fun, but there are some good ‘trimming’ opportunities in the first few sentences. For example, his smile faded and he rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, a slight hint of pink sliding onto his cheeks.
An easy way to tighten this would be to take out the phrase ‘with his free hand’ (duh) and the word ‘slight’, since ‘slight hint’ is redundant. So, is this better?
His smile faded and he rubbed the back of his neck, a hint of pink sliding onto his cheeks.
Next is another one of my problems ;-) Over the top emotions. (Julie, I hope you’ll cheer me on here). For example in the phrase above Ashleigh’s laugh burst out of her so unexpectedly she shocked herself. “She laughed in surprise” or even something as simple as “She laughed” might suffice. The emotion is still there, but more concise – to get on to the better stuff ;-)
Does it move the story forward?
It’s easy for me to want to put cute stuff into a story, an extra scene perhaps, just because I’m so doggone in love with my characters or plot. I CONSTANTLY have to ask myself if a scene, or even sentence, ‘moves the story along’. I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of sentences that just take up space, but I’ll have fewer of them than if I never asked myself the question.
For example, I tend to throw ten actions into one sentence, something my characters might never physically master, but even if they could it detracts from the story.
“His mouth slackened and he dropped his hold on her arm, brows drawn into a tight ‘v’.”
Goodness gracious! Leave something to the imagination, will ya, Pepper.
To tighten and keep the action moving forward, I need to be more concise. To the point. We’re not talking, bland.
Here’s a quote I’ve started keeping near my computer: One GREAT word is better than two good ones.
Sometimes we have to use those good ones, but keeping your imagination open for the great ones will tighten your writing – I know it will tighten mine.There you go! My story still needs editing, which I like doing, so I’ll keep learning, growing, and writing.
My SOUL still needs editing, which I may not like as much, but the end result is…well ‘out of this world’ ;-)