Sunday, June 12, 2011

Self-Editing Leads to Second Guessing

My progress with my novel rewrites has been slower than I anticipated. This is only partly due to the extra demands from my sick toddler. I spend a lot of time second guessing my choices. Do the cuts that I made yesterday enhance the story pacing, or did removing them pare it down to colorless banality? I understand better why Heinlein said, "You must never rewrite."

I am reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Dave King and Renni Brown, as I mentioned in my blog on The Bibliophile's Wonderful Dilemma. Despite learning valuable information, writing instruction books tend to be a bit dry. I think that is partly because writing instruction applies mechanics to art. I tend to write largely "by ear," letting the words and ideas flow without paying close attention to the nuts and bolts of writing. That doesn't mean that I ignore grammar and usage. What happens when my fingers first meet the keyboard is mostly the result of my instinctive understanding of English, developed during my upbringing, fostered by my education, and embellished through reading. I probably pay a bit too much attention to grammar, thanks in part to my English degree, but mostly I write the way I speak.

Today I found a glimmer in the midst of my showing versus telling angst. "Allowing your Characters' emotions to steep into your descriptions also lets you use description more freely. When your descriptions simply convey information to your readers, they interrupt the story and slow the pace down. To avoid this, many writers pare description down to a bare minimum, often leaving their writing sterile and their pace overly uniform. When description also conveys a character's personality or mood, you can use it to vary your pace or add texture without interrupting the flow. The description itself advances the story" (Location 613). Now, instead of cutting description to move the story along, I can focus on making sure that the description advances the story. As a visual person, this makes me happy. I have pictures to paint from my imagination.

The first few chapters are the learning curve. I am hopeful that my rewrites with gather momentum as they progress.

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