Editing – On Exposition

I’ve been going through the editing grind again. My second Ben Jordan thriller, FIND EMILY is edging closer to publication each day. Lucille Redmond, my editor, who has the patience of Job, has been through the manuscript three times now, and she’s still coming up with questions and suggestions.

For a book of less than 50,000 words, it’s astonishing how much editing and rewriting I’ve had to do to get it in shape for publication. I started writing the book almost exactly a year ago, and the draft I’m working on now is version 9.

Lucille’s latest revelation is about Exposition, or how to get information across to the reader without simply presenting it in an indigestible lump. Here’s an example from FIND EMILY, my book in progress:

Here’s what I wrote originally:

“Jordan? This is Superintendent Lassiter. Are you fit for active duty?”

“Fit as I’ll ever be,” said Jordan. Lassiter was from the Dublin Metropolitan Region. Jordan had worked with him in the past and found him difficult to deal with. Like many Gardaí in the regional commands, from Garda to Chief Superintendent, Lassiter had difficulty accepting help (interference) from anyone outside his own command, and the Organised Crime Unit (OCU) in particular.

“Where are you?” said Lassiter.

“I’m on a day off,” Jordan replied.

“All leave has been cancelled. How quickly can you get here?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Make it five. Use your siren.” Lassiter disconnected.

[A typical piece of raw exposition, chucking facts at the reader.]

This is what it looks like after edit:

“This is Superintendent Lassiter. Where the hell are you?” Lassiter, from the Dublin Metropolitan Region, was an old sparring partner from Jordan’s time in the Organised Crime Unit.

“I’m on a half day,” Jordan replied.

“All leave has been cancelled. How quickly can you get here?”

“Ten minutes,” said Jordan.

“Make it five. Use your siren.” Lassiter disconnected.

Jordan was intrigued. Whatever the trouble was it had put a serious dent in Lassiter’s fender, serious enough that he was looking for help outside his own command.

Jordan made it to Harcourt Square in less than five minutes, abandoned his car in the compound, and ran inside. He took the lift to the DMR on the third floor. When the lift doors opened he found Superintendent Lassiter waiting for him.

“Jordan, good. Are you fit?”

“Fit as I’ll ever be,” said Jordan.

Here’s a useful link on the subject of Exposition.

3 thoughts on “Editing – On Exposition

  1. Jack Eason says:

    JJ, Don’t ask me to tell you how many re-writes I’ve done to my latest – far too many to mention. Changing a word here, eliminating a sentence or paragraph there. If our readers only knew eh? 🙂

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