Editing and Semi-Ghost Writing often go hand in hand, so an actual example is often helpful.
Note: Character names and locations have been changed on this chapter sample.
RECEIVED: Chapter idea, based on an author's old
recollection. 593 words
Edit, semi-ghost write to lengthen, then polish for story coherence and smooth reading, but maintain feel of author's writing.
FOLLOWING IS COMPLETED VERSION
PRODUCED: Finished chapter.
Edited, semi-ghost written to lengthen, then polished for story coherence and smooth reading, while maintaining author's voice.
FINISHED WORD COUNT: 1186, an increase of 593 words, original word count doubled.
TIME SPENT: 1.5 hours
One Sunday morning, Mama and us kids woke up to discover that Daddy hadn't come home the night before. Mama was beside herself with worry. Although Booger was hardly ever fazed about anything, LuLu, Annie, Paul, and Sharon were throughly distraught.
My brother Tyrone, on the other hand, figured that if Daddy was missing, he had been granted a reprieve. He had blown his curfew a day earlier, having come home late from playing baseball and hanging out with his friends and Daddy would have been none too amused. So when Tyrone didn't see Daddy's truck in the driveway he figured he might have gotten away with it. Personally, I was so distracted by the way everyone else was acting that I don't even recall how Daddy being missing even affected me.
What I do recall is that Mama was just sick with worry. She called the police station in town, the county seat, and then the hospital in Dispatch. Daddy wasn't at any of them. I overheard her when she was talking to various people and heard her say that occasionally Daddy might come rolling in as late as four or five in the morning, but he had never, ever arrived after sunrise, so she was seriously worried.
This was actually news to me. My brothers and sisters and I were generally asleep by midnight, so we'd not been aware that Daddy occasionally came home in the wee hours of the morning.
Tyrone and I were the eldest of the children who were still living at home back then. I was twelve years old, and I was pretty much at a loss as to what to say or do, so I felt fairly helpless. Tyrone on the other hand, was quietly rejoicing at his good fortune at not being on the hot seat for blowing his curfew.
I think Mama was so consumed with worry that she just basically tuned the rest of us out for a while. But as the clock ticked closer to noon we heard the rattling of Daddy's truck as he pulled off the road and into the yard. Everybody rushed to the windows and we saw Daddy casually climb out of the truck and head for the house. He didn't seem to be injured or anything. He just marched directly into the house, casually took off his hat and laid it on a table.
Now that everybody could see that Daddy was home safe and sound, Mama's worry did a one-eighty. My normally stoic and unflappable four-foot-ten-inch mother looked at my father as though she was about to choke the life out of him.
You know, I never saw my Daddy pick up a book, but the one thing that man sure did know, was how to read an audience.
He fell wearily into his favorite chair, and asked Tyrone to bring him a glass of water. Daddy took one swallow, and then he began to spin a story that left all of us with our jaws agape. He said he'd had the most disturbing experience of his life.
Daddy told us that he had been off hunting deer in the hills in the late afternoon when a powerful rain came pouring down. He'd earlier killed a nice sized deer and had slung it over his shoulders to head back to where he'd left the truck, when that sudden rainstorm hit. It was already late and getting dark fast that time of year. So instead of sticking to the path he said he'd decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery. By that point, it was near pitch dark of course, but like most folks, Daddy knew that old cemetery like the back of his hand, so he just kept on walking.
Thing was, he didn't know that the cemetery workers had dug a fresh new grave earlier that afternoon. Daddy tripped over a pile of dirt, the deer went flying and so did Daddy. The deer landed on the grass. Daddy landed at the bottom of a six foot deep open grave.
Daddy told us that at first, he couldn't see a thing in the pitch dark, but after several minutes, his eyes gradually adjusted enough for him to figure out where he was. It was not a comforting place to be. But finding himself six feet deep in that narrow hole, try as he might, he couldn't manage to get a good enough grasp on anything to climb out. The sides were too steep and the angle too sheer for Daddy to be able to lift himself out of a grave he had no desire to claim as his own.
You could have heard a pin drop in that house as we all listened to Daddy tell us what happened.
It was about an hour later, Daddy told us, that
old man Jones, one of the five village drunks, was on his way home, and he too
had taken a shortcut through the cemetery. Daddy said he figured that maybe
Demetrius Jones had tripped over the deer. Because in the pitch dark Jones had
tumbled head first into the open grave and he'd landed right beside Daddy.
"I couldn't quite make out his face at first," Daddy told us, "but I could smell the corn liquor, and I know his grunt, so I figured out who it was. My eyes had already adjusted to the dark but his hadn't. All Demetrius knew was he was in the cemetery and had fallen into an open grave. I tell you that man's eyes were as big as saucers. I could see him, but he couldn't see me."
"So I spoke up. I said, 'Demetrius, man, I'm glad to see you here.'
"I swear to you Demetrius screamed so loud, it startled whatever was out there in the dark. You could hear the skittering and the footsteps of whatever it was that was hightailing it out of there. From my vantage point at the bottom of that grave, it sounded like a stampede.
"Well Demetrius, I guess he figured I was a ghost, 'cause he took one giant leap and propelled himself straight up out of that hole. I want to tell you that old boy can jump!
"I hollered out his name but he was runnin'so hard by then I doubt he even heard me.
"If he hadn't jumped so quick I figure I'd have told him that if he allowed me to stand on his shoulders to climb out, I could have extended my hand and hauled him back out too.
"Instead I ended up spending the whole night sitting in the bottom of a cold damp grave in the middle of a cemetery. It is not an experience I would care to repeat.
"Anyway," Daddy sighed tiredly. "I had to wait until the cemetery workers arrived this morning to get me out of there."
It was a great story.
To this day I still don't know whether Mama bought it. But it was a great story.
THIS WAS THE ORIGINAL with 593 words
One Sunday morning, we woke up, and Daddy had not come home. Mama was worried and quite beside herself. Lu Lu, Annie, Paul, and Sharon were distraught. Booger was hardly ever phased, and that day was no different.
Tyrone, on the other hand, felt he had a reprieve. The day before, Tyrone decided to come home late from playing basketball and hanging out with his friends when he didn't see Daddy's truck in the drive. I was so consumed with how everyone else reacted, I don't remember how it affected me.
What I do know is that Mama called the police station in town, the county seat, and then the hospital in Dispatch, and he was not at either. I overheard her tell various people who she spoke with that he had on occasion been out as late as four or five in the morning. But he had never arrived after sunrise.
Siblings and I were always asleep by midnight, so we were not aware that he ever came home much later.
Tyrone and I were the oldest of the children who were still at home at the time. I didn't know what to say or do, and Tyrone rejoiced over his temporary good fortune. I was only 12, and I had never felt so helpless or worthless up until then.
I think Mama ultimately became oblivious to the children after a while, but at just before noon, here came Daddy's truck pulling into the yard. He stepped out of the vehicle, seemingly perfectly intact, and he marched directly into the house and took off his hat.
Seeing that he did not seem sick or injured, my normally stoic and unflappable four-foot-ten-inch mother looked at my father as though she was about to choke the life out of him. I never saw him pick up a book, but one thing I know about my daddy is that he knew how to read an audience.
He fell back into his chair and asked Tyrone to bring him a glass of water. Daddy took one swallow, and then he began to unravel the most disturbing experience of his life.
He said that he had been hunting in the hills when a powerful rain came pouring down. Because he had killed a doe and the heavy rain, he decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery and fell into an open grave. At first, he couldn't see a thing in the pitch blackness, but after several minutes, his eyes adjusted. Still, the climb was too steep to lift himself from the pit that he had no desire to claim as his own.
About an hour later, old man Jones, one of the five village drunks, was on his way home. "He must have tripped on the deer I dropped when I fell in and stumbled and fell right beside me.
I couldn't quite make out his face at first, but I could smell the corn liquor, and I know his grunt. His eyes were as big as saucers, and I could see him, but he couldn't see me."
"I said, LeRoy, man, I'm glad to see you here.
Jones screamed so loud, it startled all the wildlife, and they began a stampede. He took one leap and propelled himself out of the grave. I wanted to tell him that if he would allow me to stand on his shoulders, I could climb out, and then I would extend my hand and lift him out. Instead, I had to wait until the cemetery workers arrived this morning." - END
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