Evolution of a Scene

I’m in the process of working through my line editor’s comments on Mime and I thought I’d share a little glimpse into the evolution of one of my scenes.

We join Elliot, armed with a fire extinguisher, in the middle of a very improvised rescue…

1st Draft

White fog erupted from the nozzle and engulfed the Mime. Liam cried out and jerked into a ball on the floor. Elliot kept the stream of gas going until a white gloved hand reached out of the cloud and swiped at him. He jumped back a step.

“Can you walk?” he called to Liam who used the end of one of the beds to climb to his feet.

“If I have to,” he said. He staggered past Elliot towards the door.

The Mime lunged forwards and Elliot swung the extinguisher upwards. He caught the Mime on the chin and lifted it off its feet then followed up by throwing the heavy canister into the thinning fog.

He backed out of the room and spotted Liam already limping towards the stairs.

Version 3.4 (Post Beta Edits 2019)

White fog erupted from the nozzle and engulfed the Mime. Liam yelped as he dropped, then curled into a ball on the floor and groaned.

Elliot advanced on the Mime with the stream of gas and drove it back towards the far wall. A white gloved hand reached out of the cloud and swiped at him. He jumped aside as the Mime charged, and swung the extinguisher upwards. It caught the demon on the chin and knocked it off its feet. It landed hard, sending curls of white smoke out to the sides.

Elliot rushed to Liam’s side. “Can you walk?”

“If I have to,” he said, struggling to stand. He clutched his shoulder.

The Mime burst out of the fog and grabbed for the extinguisher. Elliot shoved Liam towards the door as the demon latched on. They struggled for a moment and then Elliot twisted the nozzle towards the Mime’s face and squeezed. It released its grip and staggered back. Elliot swung the canister through the fog and nearly lost his balance when it didn’t connect with anything.

With a crack of shattering glass, a rush of air sent the fog cascading towards the door. Elliot rushed forward brandishing the extinguisher. His shoes crunched on broken window glass. He looked out. The Mime bounced down the side of the building like an abseiler. He stuck one arm out and felt invisible rope straining from a point further up. There was nothing to hand to cut it loose. The Mime reached the ground and ran off into the complex.

Elliot dropped the extinguisher. Liam leaned in the doorway, grimacing.

“Come on, we need to get out of here,” Elliot said. He moved past Liam into the hall.

Version 4.0 (Post Line Edit – now)

Editor’s comments: Make this more active and closer to Elliot’s POV. He’s got hold of the Mime. How does he feel, what does he see? Make more of this!

White fog erupted from the nozzle and engulfed the Mime. Liam yelped as he dropped, then curled into a ball on the floor, groaning.

Elliot advanced on the Mime with the stream of gas, driving it back towards the far wall. His fingers ached holding the tight trigger, but he didn’t dare let up. A white-gloved hand reached out of the cloud to swipe at him. Missed. His legs thrummed with adrenaline, like he wanted to run. The Mime charged. He leapt aside and swung the extinguisher upwards. The canister caught the demon on the chin and knocked it off its feet. It landed hard, sending curls of white smoke out to the sides.

Elliot rushed to Liam’s side. “Can you walk?”

“If I have to,” he said, struggling to stand. He clutched his shoulder.

The Mime burst out of the fog and grabbed for the extinguisher. Elliot shoved Liam towards the door and tightened his hold as the demon latched on. An unfamiliar urge to fight roared inside him. To smash that hideous grin until the light vanished from those inhuman monochrome eyes. He twisted the extinguisher left and right, trying to win the weapon back so he could end this. But there was no dislodging the demon’s grip. His hands began to slip from the sweat on his palms. The Mime’s mouth widened with silent, manic glee. Panic threatened, but the rage was hotter. It boiled out of Elliot in a wordless roar. He twisted the nozzle towards the Mime’s face and squeezed. It released its grip and staggered back, but he caught a lungful of the gas that set him coughing, head whirling. He swung the canister wildly through the fog and nearly lost his balance when it didn’t connect with anything.

With a crack of shattering glass, a rush of air sent the fog cascading towards the door. Elliot rushed forward, brandishing the extinguisher. His shoes crunched on broken window glass. He looked out, sucking in fresh air. The Mime bounced down the side of the building like an abseiler. Running like a bloody coward so it could regroup. Elliot stuck one arm out and felt invisible rope straining from a point further up. He glanced around desperately for something, anything, to cut it loose, but there was nothing to hand. The Mime reached the ground and ran off into the complex, and Elliot thumped his fist against the wall.

“Elliot, man. You okay?” Liam asked.

With a sharp shake of his head, Elliot dragged himself away from the window. He set the extinguisher down and re-settled his glasses. The struggle left his limbs tight, agitated. Liam leaned in the doorway, grimacing.

So what do you think? Did I successfully address the editor’s feedback?

As you can see, I usually under write my first drafts and add better action, detail and description in when I edit. How about you? How have you met the challenge of evolving a scene?

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