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Your Chance to be a Writing Critic

February 23, 2011

Pacheco Falls

My mind continues to buzz with the overload of information I was privy to at the SF Writer’s Conference.  I capped the weekend with an additional in-depth session with Donald Mass specifically about adding micro-tension into our work.  Needless to say, I am back at page one of my rewrite, actually after 24 hours, I have advanced through page seven.  I thought I might give an example of a passage I changed in Pacheco Falls using the principles I learned yesterday.  I would love to hear what anyone thinks is the difference and if there are aspects about Samantha that are revealed in the new and improved passage. 

This passage in Pacheco Falls is one that is typically benign in a novel, a travel passage of driving from one place to another.  Here goes:

Old passage:

The road to the barn is bumpy, filled with chuck holes, slow going.  I don’t care.  I shift down and navigate each ridge and pothole, my body doesn’t jar, but instead rolls with the ride.  I imagine that I am riding my horse at the trot and my seat needs to melt into the saddle to absorb the rise and fall.  Soon I am riding that road just like I want to ride Sergeant.

New passage:

On the way to the barn, I pass drifts of yellow pollen blown into piles along the road.  I look into my rearview mirror.  I want to see the tracks my tires make.  The sight convinces me that I am going forward.  My eye catches the hunkered form of a hawk on a fence post.  It opens its chest at that moment, showing its red feathers.  I do the same, pull my shoulders back and take a deep breath.  I pass by the beer can that never moves from its spot on a patch of dirt next to the road and the taste in my mouth changes.  It reminds me of all those times I got shit-faced.  If I ever do that again, I know all this will end.  I will be trapped in my old life, be stuck smelling oil on pavement instead of horse manure and grass.  Never see Sergeant.

Okay then, chime in people.  I want to hear from you!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Marvin Tennefoss permalink
    February 23, 2011 2:23 pm


  2. helen permalink
    February 24, 2011 2:59 am

    New version–awesome!

  3. February 25, 2011 5:30 am

    hmmm… Sorry, I kinda like the old one better… maybe because the road (and car ride) to my barn is just like that, and after many trips back and forth, I don’t pay that much attention to stuff… just wanna get home and ride… also, I’ve never been shit-faced drunk, so I’m having a hard time identifying with that one (yes, I’m soooo pure!).

    • February 25, 2011 5:39 am

      A comment from E!! I am stoked even though you liked the old one better.
      Did you see your cute baby in the picture?

      • February 28, 2011 6:40 am

        yeah, well, if it’s the only way to see what’s up with you, I will resort to looking at your blog, even though blogs and Facebook go against my grain 🙂

  4. February 25, 2011 8:57 pm

    Love the second passage it will definetly keep me reading!

  5. Amy Waynar permalink
    February 26, 2011 7:11 pm

    I enjoyed reading both. Hmmm, I got the picture you were trying to write in both passages. The second one of coarse is much more imaginary, however, the first one is right to the point. The second I believe would keep the reader more attached to the story I presume.

    My 2 cents.

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