I love my critique group. I would have given up on this project years ago if not for them (and a few others, as well). And sometimes it is the simplest of things that can mean so much. Case in point: What follows are three paragraphs from today’s editing.
These thoughts swirled so in my head that I failed to notice the low rumbling and hissing of our mill until it appeared, as if by magic, around a slow bend in the river. It gave me such a start that I pulled Parsifal to a stop. In the few heartbeats it took to accept my surroundings as real, I felt a flood of emotions pour through me. Relief for Joss’ sake. A silly nostalgia for a place I had abandoned less than two days ago. And shame at having left in the first place. I gave Parsifal a kick. If we were less than a mile from home, I could risk a canter.
Past the mill was the retting pond. It reflected the golden light of late afternoon in its calm surface. At summer’s end it would be a smelly, noisy place as flax stems were soaked and beaten into fiber for linen. Beyond the pond was the edge of our open fields.
The nearest was fallow and a few of our workers cleared wild plants that had encroached from the forest. They all stopped to eye us suspiciously. One of the nearer workers approached us, his hoe held up like a weapon. I didn’t need to be close enough to see his face. Only Halduc would be rash enough to face two strangers on a warhorse while armed only with a hoe.
One of my critique group partners indicated the middle paragraph and wrote the following: “So?”
When in the middle of the writing process, sometimes you miss the obvious. I knew there was a retting pond there, but the reader didn’t. I had to tell them, didn’t I? Um. No. Extraneous information is just that; extraneous. I kept the last sentence. But the rest? Whack! 40 more words gone.
October 10th: 129,724 words