During the month, my developmental editor, Alida, whom I have mentioned in past blogs, inquired about my progress. I was almost at the halfway point of the first draft of Book One. Not quite, but close. She wanted to see a few chapters. I sent her the last four I had just completed. I thought I had done a fairly good job on them.
When Alida sent them back, she complimented me on my progress, but at the same time had some concerns. She advised me that I still had the bad habit of telling rather than describing. The following phrase was in one of the chapters and she highlighted it as an example of telling: “He swam with joy and abandon.” Alida told me to rewrite this phrase by describing my character’s joy and abandon. By doing this, I would bring the reader into the scene.
The following represents my attempt to redraft “joy and abandon”. Did I pull you into the scene? Were you there as Alex swam? Let me know by commenting either on my blog.
The set up: Alex is a surfer who experienced a traumatic episode earlier in Book One. This segment represents the third time he has attempted to get back in the water. Note: You may find some parts of this segment slightly confusing since certain elements have been explained in previous chapters.
When he had entered the waters of the Cove an hour ago, he began by floating face down on the surface waiting until his gills, paddles, and webbing formed. With his arms straight out from his shoulders and both legs hanging relaxed in a slightly downward direction, Alex slowly sank beneath the surface. His body tingled as if the nerve endings were just coming awake from a deep sleep. He knew his enhanced senses had reached out to begin accessing his environment. The change in pressure caused by the movement of the various aquatic animals intrigued him. The reef pulsated as fish darted back and forth among the coral heads. Sea fans and anemones waved gently in the currents. Crabs scuttled across the landscape and sea worms popped up and then contracted within their tubes. Alex began to attempt to identify the various sources. They were too many. All jumbled together on the side of the reef facing the shore. He did sense one object to his right. Glancing in that direction it took him a while to spot the two eyes poking up from the sand. The flounder lay perfectly still.
Detecting no danger, a thin smile expanded across Alex’s face causing his cheeks to puff up slightly. Then with a sudden burst of energy, he pulled his arms down toward his sides while simultaneously commencing a flutter kick. The combined affect lifted his torso upward while the kicks from his webbed feet caused Alex to shoot forward like a torpedo. He felt the water stream across his body at a rate he had never experienced before. Propelled forward by the up and down motion of his legs, he had the same sensations as if he were topside on his surf board. His heart pounding. The adrenaline flowing. His senses amplified creating an aura of being incapable of defeat. Underwater a difference existed. Topside Alex would attempt to maintain his balance and avoid crashing below the wave as it threw him toward the shore. Beneath the surface, Alex controlled his destiny like a racecar driver alone on a track. The thrill still existed, but without the possibility of wiping out.
Keeping his paddled hands pressed against his thighs to minimize drag, Alex slowly moved them toward his waist. In one fluid motion, as his elbows began to stick out, he thrust his two arms forward holding his hands tightly together as if he were praying. With his hands and arms now formed like the bow of a boat, the affect was instantaneous. His entire body flew forward as if the engines had shifted to “full speed ahead”. Keeping his mouth shut, he could hear his voice bouncing around inside his head as internally he howled in delight. Moving in a straight line, as the water parted and flowed around his body, Alex began to experiment.
With his arms still extended straight out, he slowly unfolded his hands keeping his palms flat while locking his thumbs together. In this position, he notice a slight drag. The water rippled across his now flat paddled hands. Looking at them Alex could see his skin undulate as the force of the water rolled over and around his paddles. Rotating his hands to the left, the water pushed against his exposed palms and paddles. Suddenly his entire body turned as the water hit and pressed against his exposed front. The force of the water lifted him sideways and then continued pushing against him as the directional turn completed. Alex had the sensation he was flying as he dipped slightly downward. Rotating his hands level again, he straightened out and continued an angled descent toward the floor of the cove. Wanting to move deeper at a quicker pace, he jackknifed his body by bending at the waist. The affect caused him to rapidly drop toward the bottom. As it rushed towards him, Alex pushed his webbed feet down which caused him to level out just a few feet above the sandy surface. As he glided gracefully along the bottom, an astonished crab scurried away. Kicking his legs easily, Alex moved forward leaving a plume of silt as if he was driving a car down a dusty road. Then suddenly arching his back, Alex lifted off of the bottom. As he maintained the arch, he completed a full circle just like a playful seal. Unlike the tense tight muscles on his board, his were supple as he moved through the water. The fluidity of his movements gave him the sensation of being a feather floating through the air.