This is another installment in our periodic editing program here at Writer Unboxed. The piece I’ve chosen for this particular exercise shows some real talent in description, setting, pacing, and dialogue, and it was enjoyable to read.
That said, it lacked dramatic focus, and too much of what was happening felt muddled or underdeveloped, so that the extended scene that comprises the piece had considerably less emotional impact than it could have. Much of what I say here will be focused on how we might improve that.
One of the difficulties in editing the piece was trying to discern the author’s intent given the muddled emotions and desire-line in the scene. This created constant uncertainty as to how to go about improving the piece. (It’s also one of the reasons this post is so long–sorry.)
Another difficulty resulted from not knowing from the outset whether it was intended as a short story (because its title, “Knowing When to Quit,” suggested a self-contained whole) or a chapter in a longer work. Given the number of references to incidents and characters outside the text itself—for example, the death of Eddie’s best friend, Nick, and the existence of the “Agency,” etc.—I decided that it was part of a larger work, and that the title was intended as a chapter title .
I’ll first present the text as edited. I have used bracketed numbers referencing my changes, and employed underlining where I have added text. My comments as to why I’ve made the changes will appear with those numbers for reference after the edited text. Then I’ll discuss in greater detail the more developmental aspects of what I would propose if I were the editor on this project.
Knowing When to Quit
The shiny spot on the bronze pig butt mounted above the entrance to The Brass Tail was tempting, but Josh preferred making his own luck.  The Marina district of San Francisco was eight miles and a world away from the sunlit streets of Sausalito. He’d left Kat there in the lengthening shadows, stubborn as ever in refusing his offer of help. Here, fog had reclaimed the streets, muffling traffic noises and sucking away the day’s warmth. 
Cold, damp, San Francisco fog air pooled around him Josh’s legs as he stood in the entry, taking . He stamped his feet and took a moment to absorb the energy of the room.  Despite her being eight miles away in sunlit Sausalito, Kat’s vibe saturated everything. She didn’t just own the place, she haunted it.  [Read more…]