Teaser Tuesday: Raw to First Pass

I finished the first draft of Bloodlust: Will to Power this weekend. I am now engaged in polishing it while I await beta reader reactions.

Here is an example of raw, unpolished text.

Stonebreaker tossed the metal ball with surprising alacrity. Gavin raised his shield not a moment too soon. The ball rang against the nigh-impervious metal of the shield. The impact drove the Gladiator back, numbing his arm. The crowd cheered. The troll yanked on the chain, bringing the ball sailing back towards him and began whirling it above his head like a lasso. He moved purposely towards Gavin.

Gavin was unsure how to attack. His shield provided some defence, but the ball would wrap around the edge if he was not careful. It seemed that Stonebreaker wanted to herd him back into the wall where his options would be limited. Moving forward into the arc of the whirling ball and chain presented an obvious danger, but it gave him room to manoeuvre.

Stonebreaker let a length of chain slide through his grip, increasing his reach as the lethal ball swung once more towards Gavin. It was a skillful technique and Gavin was nearly caught off guard. He leapt up, jumping over swinging chain to avoid the deadly weapon.

He hit the ground, rolling towards his opponent, lancing out with his spear as he came to his feet. His weapon bit deep into an unarmoured spot above the troll’s hip-plates. The troll grunted but showed no signs of pain, drawing his chain in so that the ball whirled towards the Gladiator. Gavin ducked, weaving a spell. The heavy ball and chain cut the air above his head. The Gladiator channelled power into the spell, twisting and pulling on his spear as he backed away from the looming form of the massive troll.

The spear head came free, ribbons of red gore caught on its vicious barbs. Gavin’s powerful mental assault hit home as well, overcoming the trolls strong resistance filling his head with pain. This time Stonebreaker staggered. Gavin followed up by lunging forward, ramming his shield into the trolls face. The already unbalanced troll fell backwards, landing hard on the bloody sand.

Here is the same text after a brief first pass.

Stonebreaker tossed the metal ball underhand. The troll moved with impressive speed. Gavin swatted at the flying projectile. The metal mass clanged against his shield. The impact drove the Gladiator back a step, sending vibrations running down his arm. It was like block a shot from a small cannon. The crowd cheered.

Stonebreaker yanked on the chain, bringing the ball sailing back. He caught it in a leather palmed gauntlet, confident and efficient. Then he tossed the ball into the air and began whirling it above his head like a lasso. He started moving towards Gavin, purposeful and confident.

Gavin wasn’t sure how to attack. The troll had reach and range and was more resistant to his magic than other creatures. His shield provided some defence, but he guessed that Stonebreaker could get around that. A skilled chain weapon user could wrap the weapon’s head around the edge of a shield with a deft motion. Care would be need if he wanted to get close. It seemed that the troll’s plan was to herd him back into the wall where his mobility would be limited. Moving forward into the arc of the whirling ball and chain presented an obvious danger, but it would Gavin room to manoeuvre.

Gavin edged forward, keeping an eye on the ball. Stonebreaker, smirking, let a length of chain slide through his grip. This increased the reach of his weapon. The metal mass whirled towards the Gladiator. It was skillfully and subtly done. Gavin was nearly caught off guard. He leapt up, leaping over swinging chain to avoid the deadly weapon. He felt it pass under him, just missing his feet.

Gavin hit the ground, tumbling towards his opponent. He began to channel power, focusing for a spell. Coming to his feet, he lanced out with his spear. The broad blade bit deep, piercing unarmoured flesh above the troll’s hip-plates. Stonebreaker grunted, but did not falter. The troll drew his chain in so that the ball whirled towards the Gladiator. Gavin ducked. The heavy mass swept the air above his head. The Gladiator twisted and pulled on his weapon as he backed away from the looming form of his enemy. The spearhead came free, ribbons of red gore caught on its vicious barbs. Gavin felt a surge of Triumph as Stonebreaker’s smirk disappeared.

The Gladiator followed up, completing his spell. This powerful mental assault hit overcame the trolls strong resistance. This time Stonebreaker staggered. His chain fell to the ground, limp. Gavin lunged forward as he reeled, ramming his shield into the troll’s face. Already unbalanced, the troll toppled backwards, crashing down to the bloody sand.

The main changes I’ve made (so far) are to make the action sentences shorter, to clarify some of what is going on, and to vary my words a bit. After this I highlight problem sentences and move on. I like to think about it before giving it another pass.

Shorter action sentences give the fight a more dynamic feel, like listening to the blow by blow from a sportscaster. It also allows the writer to use a  longer sentence to add a kind of slow motion highlight to a particular action, switching from short punchy sentences more detailed prose. I’m not sure if I’m skilled enough to work that kind of juxtaposition, but its fun to try 😀

Word variance is important, critics will often parse your book and point out that you use certain words too often. With find/replace you can analyze this minor problem and fix it quite quickly. I tend to be more concerned about using the same words to often within the same scene or paragraph. However, repetition can be a powerful tool, which is something I try out with crowd chants in this book.

(edit) Here is an example of bad word repetition:

Stonebreaker yanked on the chain, bringing the ball sailing back. He caught it in a leather palmed gauntlet, confident and efficient. Then he tossed the ball into the air and began whirling it above his head like a lasso. He started moving towards Gavin, purposeful and confident.

/facepalm. That’s a lot of confidence there Chris… This is actually a mistake I made during the first pass. I wanted to Stonebreaker to come off as confident and skilled. Adding confident to either one works. I also tackled these two sentences at different times during the day, something that can lead to additional errors. I really hate repeating descriptive words in such a short space. Many people say it is bad writing, I find it just annoys me.

Feel free to compare the two and comment.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s