After reading that god-awful story I blogged about the other week, I looked back on a story I've been working on for what seems like years, and I don't want to say I was impressed with myself, but it was pretty clear to me that what I had in my first draft was better written than what was published in that's story's final draft version.
Here's an example of the (pedestrian) writing from the unnamed author's awful story:
There had come a time when Margaret became sick of dieting and sick of being plain. Once she'd made quite a success of herself in the advertising business, she could afford to give her entire body, from face to feet, a complete workover. And she did. Plastic surgery, liposuction, tucks here and there; her lips were injected with collagen, her eyes were improved, her chin and cheekbones were enhanced and her breasts were enlarged.
Et cetera. You may have read that and thought to yourself, "I don't know what you're talking about, dude. Maybe you're being too critical. That's not too awful."
Maybe. But this is why I think that's weak writing: It's redundantly wordy and artless. Just in case you were unsure of what the author meant when he wrote "her entire body," he's there to clarify that he means "from face to feet." And yes, it's true if you give your "entire" body a workover "from face to feet" of course it's going to be "complete."
And to make matters worse, the author knows his vague adjectives are not pulling the weight, which is why he goes into specifics about the plastic surgery, lipo, and other procedures, descriptions of which are no less vague or artless. "Tucks here and there," somewhere on her "entire body" I'm guessing. "Her eyes were improved." What the fuck does that mean? And you mean to tell me that when she got her breast enlargement surgery, "her breasts were enlarged?" Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Anyway, in my own writing, I try very hard to make every word count. I don't like using unnecessary, non-descriptive adjectives, and I don't like pointing out the obvious. Excessive detail is not always a good thing. Sometimes it's just excessive.
At any rate, below is an excerpt from my current work-in-progress, tentatively titled The Losing End. It's a crime story about a gang of con artists unraveling at the seams as they learn the true price of betrayal. After the jump, I'll post a somewhat lengthy excerpt. It's still in draft form and rough in some places, but one thing I hope you'll notice is that, despite being almost 500 words long, it's rather lean and efficient, at least compared to the example I cited above.
So click below to read it: