A stressful week on top of getting slammed with allergies convinced me to stay home from work today. Instead of staring at government words on paper I’m staring at my words on paper. Plodding through the editing process. I made a pot of tea, opened up the document, prepared to knuckle down and work all day. And the very first sentence I saw was this:
The fire was stoked and beating back the chill in the old house.
Okay, easy to fix. Even I could see that without looking at editor comments. Well, after the fact of course. I didn’t see it when originally writing it. The sentence quickly became:
The stoked fire beat back the chill in the old house.
And then I got stuck. The editor suggested ‘of’ rather than ‘in’. I spent so much time going back and forth that I came here instead.
Really, is such a small word worth such indecision? It appears so.
‘Of’ makes me think of an old house that’s always cold, even in summer. Damp maybe, with that smell of something closed up too long. It speaks of a house not lived in, not loved, or maybe lived in once by a nasty old lady with binoculars.
When I think of ‘in’ I imagine there is an outside force making the house cold at this particular moment. Which is the case here as it’s winter, the protagonist is alone in a home she doesn’t belong to yet, and her mother is back making demands.
So I’m going to stick with ‘in’. It feels right to me.
And I’ve now spent half an hour debating between two-letter words. I do believe though, very strongly, that it’s this level of detail that makes a story. Just the right word in just the right place. Or at least what I perceive to be just the right word.
Dang, here’s another two letter word.
Cody opened up the journal. That just became, Cody opened the journal. Why didn’t I make that simple change while writing the story initially? Who knows. At least it was pointed out to me before going to print.
At this rate I’m going to spend all day on the first paragraph in this chapter. But at least I’m not at work, and the tea is still hot, and the next paragraph will be there tomorrow. For today, as they say, the devil is in the details.
I wonder how that expression came in to being. I refuse to google it and research it and delay my next two-letter word stumbling block.
Back to work.