I love editing this thing. It’s like, when I first wrote “Invito Rex”, I was worried about the story. Who the characters were, what they were doing. I got about ninety thousand words written, and it’s almost all story.
Now that I’m doing the editing pass, I’m taking it slow. I know that I had a picture in my head of how the world looked in each scene, but I never bothered to write it down. Now that I’m going back through it, I’m describing people and places in a way that makes it jump to life. I’ve never enjoyed editing so much.
Here’s an example, something I finished working on just a few minutes ago. It deals with two of my favorite characters:
Across the street from the Westin Hills, two sterling emissaries of the lowest class looked up from their game of Circus to watch the young man enter. The darkened alcove they inhabited was lit by no more than a distant streetlight, which made their pieces look more shadow than substance on the circular board. The pressed-wood gameboard balanced precariously on top of a corrugated steel barrel, rusted through at the bottom. From beneath their laborer’s caps, neither could see the other’s face, though that was hardly a bother for two who were so familiar with each other. They had worked side-by-side for so many years, they were more family than friends. They were brothers in every aspect, other than genealogy.
They looked to be complete opposites, two sides of the coin. One short and stout, with a bushy beard that ran from his ears to his shoulders. The other tall and wiry, more akin to a perching bird than a man. He had his knees pulled up under him so that he rested upon his feet while sitting on the dumpster. He hugged his knees as he watched the flashy young man enter the hotel.
The wider of the two shook his head and looked back to the game. He took a lance with his book and kept the dirty, wooden piece in his hand. Scratching his bushy beard with the piece, he said, “See that, Lou? Nobs in our midst.”
His taller, thin compatriot nodded, his head bobbing like a melon on a spring, “Dunna be long now, Stan, ‘fore we have to get Sunday best, just to walk the street.”
The thicker man regarded him with small deep-set, shining black eyes, “Nah. Expect he’s just here for words wit’ her ladyship.”
Lou’s pale hand floated over to a glove, moving the piece out of danger and placing it behind a pair of lances, “Didn’t seem a proper lord, anyhow.”
The dark man raised a bushy eyebrow, “How do you figure, Lou?”
“Well, proper lord don’t travel alone.” He tapped the side of his long face, winking, “That’s logic, there, Stan.”
The bushy beard shook, leaving a brief cloud of dust, “Nah. Perception’s what that is, my duck. Logic’s when you figger on what kind of person, what ain’t a lord, walks around actin’ so?”
Lou’s thin hand snaked out to catch the circular board as it threatened to capsize, “Well, Stan, seems to me there’s two kinda folk, what ain’t a lord, but walks so.”
Stan leaned back against the grubby tenement wall and laced his fingers together over his stomach, “Enlighten us, great thinker.”
“There’s them what’s really got the patter down. I mean, covered tight, with not a jot out of place, and every p and q dotted.”
Stan nodded slowly, “And t’other?”
Lou shrugged, “Them what’s gonna die.”
Stan nodded sagely, “Now that, my friend, is logic.”