Editing my work: an example

Posted on 4th May, 2017


Editing sucks. There isn’t much else to say about it. It starts out kind of ok, but after a while it makes me lose the will to live.  Even so, I thought I’d share a bit of editing with you.

First off, we have the unedited first piece I wrote. I haven’t planned anything for this piece. It’s literally just an idea that popped into my head which I wrote out there and then. This first bit sucks big time, but that’s ok. It’s what edits are for.


The slam of the front door jerked me out of sleep. For half a second, I rolled over into the warmth of the nest of quilts and blanket provided, but then I jerked awake, swore and rolled out of bed. For a few minutes I stumbled around squinting at everything so I could pick out clothes. Shapes were difficult to make out, but colours were easy. To save any embarrassment, I pulled out black jeans and t-shirt, pulled them on in flash and tossed my pyjamas onto my bed. So that I didn’t break a toe stumbling around the house, I put my glasses on and then rushed to the bathroom, the carpet thick and warm underfoot. There, I put my contacts in, the shape of my olive green/brown eyes only coming to focus when I had them in.

The door was still open so I could see the hall coco-clock. I had ten minutes before I was late. Damnit. Still, I wasn’t going to go looking like I’d simply rolled out of bed in a rush. I’d slept with my dark brown hair wrapped around a bandanna so that it wasn’t limp and boring. I carefully untwisted it all and shook it out to blend the waves together. Next, I put some eye makeup up and then brushed my teeth, lip gloss I could do while I was walking. A dash back into my bombsite room saw me stuffing my feet into boots so dark brown they were nearly black, pack my bag for the day and grab a few dark hair ties – just in case. Then I was thundering down the stairs, sliding along the hall floor in my socks and then pulling my dark brown jacket on. There was a black hoodie inside it, perfect for these winter months.

“Do you need a lift?” Grandpa asked.

“It’s not far. I’ve got a couple of minutes spare.”

“Alright. Wait a minute.” He went back into the kitchen.

“Don’t have time,” I said and pulled the door open.

“Bacon sandwich!”

I shut the door again, hurried into the kitchen and plucked the sandwich outside Grandpa’s hand. I mumbled a thank you around a huge bite of the sandwich and then hurried to school, sloshing through the rain which had appeared from nowhere. I didn’t bother putting my hood up as it wasn’t waterproof and arrived at school just as the bell for the first lesson went, flushed but shivering. It was a few moments after the last stragglers that I entered the literature classroom.

It was a typical high school classroom with chairs, desks and a whiteboard, but the man standing at the front was the last person on Earth I’d expected. A few weeks ago our regular teacher had left because of terminal illness. She still had a couple of years left, but the last place she’d wanted to spend that time was in a school teaching. Since then we’d had a series of supply teachers who hadn’t known a think about Shakespeare and we’d done the same worksheet three times already. This man it seemed, was our replacement teacher.

His green eyes were the same, but with more wrinkles around them, his skin was the same light tan and his hair was still short, but greyer than before. He gave me a confused look, but that was because I’d stopped in the door way, panting with shock and confusion on my face. He didn’t recognise me, I knew he didn’t.

Even before I finished up, I really disliked how this was written, but in terms of a general idea of a story opening it isn’t too bad. Yes, things move way too quickly and it feels rushed, but when I came to looking at it again and deciding if anything could be salvaged, it held a little promise. The same idea of her being late for school and being reunited with someone was still going to be the driving force of the chapter-plot, but I felt like I needed to get into her head more and I wanted to take more time exploring her home in the morning.

Here’s what I came up with. It’s completely unedited, needs some whole paragraphs improving, but I hope you get the idea.

The slam of the front door jerked me out of sleep. My eyes barely opened, but my heart was racing from the sudden jolt. I rolled over back into my warm hidey-hole of quilt and blankets so that the sun that was coming through the thin curtains wasn’t so annoying. For a moment the curiosity of what someone was doing going out so early on a Saturday wasn’t enough to get me moving. Then I began to wonder what time it was.

Lazily, I reached out to my bedside unit and picked up my watch. I’d had it since I was a little kid and was one of the few things I had left of my dad. It had a purple fabric strap with pink flowers on it that had green centres. The face was white with green numbers and different shades of purple on either half to better indicate the ‘past’ and ‘to’ sides. The strap was fading now, the colours going to pastel shades, but even though I had another watch I always used this one.

It was nearly half eight. Too early for a Saturday.

“Sasha, bacon sandwich!” Grandpa called.

“What?” I croaked and sat up, rubbing my right eye with the heel of my hand. “But it’s so early!”

“Sasha, come on!”


Sluggishly, I pulled pyjama bottoms on not caring that they were crumpled because it wasn’t like I was stepping foot outside the house today. I had three essays to write today for Monday. Grandpa called it procrastinating. I called it leaving it to the last minute on purpose so that I reached my optimum level of anxiety, otherwise known as being in denial about laziness.

“Sasha!” Grandpa called again.

“I’m coming, alright!” I called and pulled my slippers on.

I yanked my dressing gown off the back of my desk chair and wrapped that around me too as the central heating hadn’t kicked in yet. Lord, it was far too early to be up on a Saturday. As soon as I had my door open, the coco clock chimed making me jump. I scowled at it as I did most Saturday mornings when it did that and trundled down stairs, scratching the back of my head. Even though it was morning, I had to flick the light on as the sunlight was blocked by thunder clouds that were giving the drive the best power wash it had ever had.

“Thank god I’m staying in all day today.”

Marty, our golden retriever, padded over to me when I got to the bottom of the stairs. I scratched his head. “You sure you want a haircut today, mate?”

We went through the small lounge into the equally small kitchen.


“Oh my god, Grandpa! What’s the rush?” I asked and sat on one of the barstools.

The kitchen might have been a hundred years old, but damn if Grandpa didn’t have a window to sit at in the morning with his coffee. He could have sat in the dining room, we had a glass door in there, but the kitchen was his spot because it had a small TV in it and he could watch the news as he got his breakfast ready. It was on now, some headline about Donald Trump’s latest act of idiocy.

“No plans for today then?” Grandpa asked cheerfully and put a bacon roll and the brown sauce in front of me.

“I had planned on sleeping in before I did my essays.” I yawned and put so much sauce on the roll that it spilled onto the plate. I sighed.

“Nothing else?”

“Eating bacon rolls.” Some sauce dripped onto my chin and I licked it way. “Drinking brown sauce.”

“Really? With a mouth full?” he asked with a cringe.

“Sorry.” I still had a mouth full, but this time I mumbled it so he couldn’t see my mashed up food.

“Going to school today?”

“It’s Saturday, Grandpa?”

“Is it?”


“Then I should probably call Nannie back from work.” He scratched his chin.

“Good morning, Linda, Kyle,” the weather reporter said, “I’m afraid all I can promise for this bleak Friday morning is – ”

I stopped listening to her and looked at the TV screen. Sure enough, the word Friday, not Saturday was in the bottom right of it.

“Oh no,” I said.

And ran upstairs. I jumped over the dog who was lying in the hallway, took the stairs two at a time and hurried into the bathroom. It was the fastest morning pit-stop I’d ever made even though I put some makeup on because although I had rolled out of bed and rushed getting ready, no one at school was going to know that. Luckily, Nannie had washed a complete outfit yesterday and even more luckily, they were still on top of my drawers. Black skinny jeans, a black t-shirt and hooded jacket. Under them was my usual collection of jewellery. I picked it all up, put it in a pocket of my rucksack, took all the books and folders out if it, stuffed them in a Japanese airport duty-free bag and then put it all back in the bag. I didn’t have all my lessons today, but I didn’t have time to take out what I didn’t need either, not whilst not moving.

I grabbed it all and took things out as I walked down the stairs. Grandpa was waiting at the bottom of them with a packed lunch and my bacon roll in hand.

“You’re going to be late,” he said.

I bit my tongue on a retort and swapped books for food. He passed me my brown leather jacket, the most weather appropriate coat I had.

“See you later,” I said shucking it on and pulled the door handle open.

The hood went straight up and I kept a tight hold of the edge. It wasn’t far to school, a ten minute dash, but I only had five to get there. Most people were in cars and traffic was at a standstill. I crossed the road while I could, tightened the straps on my rucksack and ran up the hill. It was harder work than I remembered and eating as I ran gave me a stich. I got splashed by a lorry, I flipped the driver’s mate of when he leaned out the window and wolf-whistled whilst taking a photo of me, nearly crashed into by a reversing car that didn’t have lights on and a quiet engine, nearly hit in the face by a spooked crow and nearly stood on a cat.

That was before I got up the hill. Coming down it, I nearly lost my balance, crashed into a bin that was out for collection, had to leap aside for some yuppie on a scooter and the mail man who darted out of a driveway. We called apologise to each other as we dashed away and he was probably smiling as much as I was – we’d both screamed a little.

Then college came into view. A dry sanctuary of metal and glass, concrete and doors and gates you had to have digital ID to pass. I wasn’t really supposed to, but I headed in through a side entrance opting to take the hit on the official morning attendance mark and get to class only a couple of minutes late. The huge inner corridor that all the classrooms stemmed from was empty, a sure sign that everyone was in class already.

Walking now, not running, I took my hood off and was surprised when my reflection showed dry hair and makeup that had survived completely un-ruined.

“Huh,” I panted. “Nice.”

I reached up and undid the knot on the red scarf I’d twisted my dark brown locks in overnight and pulled it out. Ringlets fell down in clumps, but I pulled them apart on the way to class and teased my fingers through them, turning them into irregular waves.

I went up a set of stairs, banged through a door and found my classroom oddly teacher-less.

“How is your hair dry?!” Sam asked in shock.

I smiled and sat next to him at the end of the longer horse shoe edge of the desks. “Jealous?”

“Surprised. Your makeup isn’t even running.”

“Alright for some,” his girlfriend mumbled and pulled a mascara wand through her pale lashes. “We even came in the car.”

“Alright for some. I got splashed by a bus.”

“Oh, I got splashed by a bus and my hair and face are perfect,” she mimicked in a high voice.

The headmistress walked into the room with a man. Our normal teacher had left suddenly citing terminal illness. Three weeks of sub-par supply staff who didn’t know anything about Aristotle later, it looked like we finally had a replacement teacher.

A teacher I knew.

I hadn’t seen him since I was nearly four. His green eyes were the same, but with more wrinkles around them, his skin was the same light tan and his hair was still short, but greyer than before. He gave me a confused look, but that was because I was staring at him in shock.

I’m happy with how the start bit is going – how long it takes her to get out of bed, the slow pace of that whole initial scene before she realises it’s Friday. The change in pace I’m content with as she’s rushing to school (I can describe the journey home at the beginning of the next chapter), but the section which sees her going through the school building to get to her classroom needs improving. At the moment, I don’t really know what her school looks like, I based it on one I went to so I could get the scene down, and those improvements can come in once I have a firm idea of the style of building.

Editing still sucks, but I like how this piece has evolved. I feel like I know the character better and a bit about what motivates her. I even have ideas about what could happen next and how she’ll react.

For now Editing: 1, Laziness: 0