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Revising is a tough business. Scenes and sentences requiring hours of research and writing time must be sacrificed in the interests of story arc, pacing and emphasis. Sigh – it’s a wrenching part of writing. Jenny Q, the editor I wrote about recently, told me that a list of items for a WWII Red Cross shipment included in one scene slowed the action too much, not only that, she said most readers would merely skip to the next proper sentence.

But, but, but … I had been so delighted when I found the list, a real list of items a group of Red Cross volunteers had been asked to assemble one July to be received by soldiers five months later for Christmas. Grandma had packed shipments like that during the war and I had a picture to prove it! (Don’t you love the hats?) There had to be a scene about it in my novel given that one of my main characters bears more than a little resemblance to my grandmother.

Packing Red Cross ShipmentCut, condense, rephrase. The list is gone now; the scene shortened. But just in case you want to know what volunteers packed for soldiers in WWII, here it is:

  • 12,375 4×4 surgical compresses
  • 180 handkerchiefs
  • 150 men’s pyjamas
  • 200 men’s undershirts
  • 5 men’s bed jackets
  • 270 pairs of service socks
  • 2 scarves
  • 15 pairs of mitts
  • 3 ribbed helmets
  • 3 aero caps
  • 67 quilts
  • 90 boys undervests
  • 5 baby dresses
  • 30 boys dressing gowns
  • 83 girls pinafore dresses and blouses
  • 120 girls dresses
  • 65 boys underpants
  • 80 girls nightgowns
  • 125 girls sweaters
  • 145 girls skirts
  • 55 girls blouses
  • 5 boys rompers
  • 85 girls bloomers
  • 3 afghans
  • 8 complete layettes
  • 300 food packets

Odd combination, don’t you think?

PS – the scene still includes the food packets based partly on the items you can see in this picture.