POV, editing, and family fun

I mentioned a while back that my sister wrote a Sherlock fanfic. It was good, but it was a script, so Fanfiction.net pulled it (it turns out that they don't take scripts).

She liked the feedback of that site and wanted to keep her work there, so she decided to take her script and turn it into a narrative story.

I liked the script very much, but the story she first gave me was just unreadable. It was a kind of half-script/half-narration, where the writer took:

SHERLOCK: Where's my violin?

MOLLY: Where you left it!

And turned it into:

Sherlock looked around. The urge was upon him--he needed his violin. Was it there? No. There? No! What was there was just stupid, stupid Molly, oblivious to his need.

"Where's my violin?" he asked her.

She looked up, annoyed by his brusque tone. He always treated her like a servant--like it was her fault he was so disorganized. "Where you left it!" she snapped.

I'm making that up, but that's what it was like--at every freaking line of dialogue, the point-of-view shifted. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was unreadable: I gave up a couple of pages in.

Then I was in a pretty pickle, wasn't I? She's my sister, people, and I love her very much. In addition, we really count on each other--I don't take our harmony lightly.

On the other hand--she asked for an edit, didn't she? In addition, she's a good writer. The script she produced was very good (so, you know, good plot, good dialogue, properly-motivated characters), she's written good stories before, and she clearly was willing to put in the work to extensively revise it. Given all that, would I be doing her any favors if I told her, "This is fine!" when it wasn't?

She knows how I feel about editing, so I very carefully gave it to her straight--this was great, now it's bad, here's why and what you can do to fix it. Please don't hate me.

Later on, she gave me a revised version, but I was just in no hurry to read it. What if it still sucked? Finally, last night I read it--and it's great!

Of course I am proud of my sister--it's not easy to take a harsh edit, and I'm impressed by how she went from not appearing to understand point-of-view at all to really wielding it quite handily.

But I'm even more impressed by how much consciously choosing a point-of-view improves a story. This thing went from just unreadable to a proper story, which is already a big leap. In addition, in some ways the story is better than the script, because by using point-of-view, my sister was able to give the reader insight into the inner lives of characters in a way you really can't with a script.

I should note that one of the keys to her using point-of-view was to let go of some of the dialogue. Think about it: When you're Sherlock, do you even listen to what anyone else says? Half the time, it's just a kind of yapping....