Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wait...I Wrote That?

Still using the machete to slice through the jungle of words in my manuscript. But it's not all pruning. Sometimes you're going along and you see gaps that you hadn't previously seen.

What I've learned, and I'm still astounded by this, is that when you work on a long, large project, you'll be surprised when you see a section you wrote, oh, years ago. I know. At times I'll see a clump of words there, and I'll go, "I wrote that?" As in, "Oh, man, I'm glad it hasn't gone to print yet. I need to fix that." The good thing is that I'm far enough along now that I CAN fix it. When I first laid the words down, I couldn't. Wasn't ready yet. All I could do then, and all I needed to do, was get the words on the page.

Other times I'll say, "I wrote that?" and it's in a good way. "Wow! That's actually good!" I'll say.

The point is that both will happen. As writers, as creatives, we judge ourselves harshly sometimes. We're too close. We need to get away, step back, take an uncritical look at our work. What happens is that with every rereading, we see more. Trim a little here, add a word there, chop out this sentence, find a different word.

Here's a little of what I'm currently hammering away at:

Consistency--my character always refer to his mom as Mother. Never Mom. Guess what? Mom slipped in a few places, so it's time for some good ol' word processor find and replace.

Word of caution: Avoid doing a Replace All. Use brain and eyeballs to check each instance, otherwise you could get some unwelcome alterations.

Example: If I Replace All instances of 'Mom' with 'Mother', what's going to happen? Yep, I had a sentence beginning with the word 'Momentarily'. Doing a Replace All changed it to 'Motherentarily'. Oops.

Reading aloud--reading it with the eyes is different from hearing it with the ears. Read passages out loud to a writing partner, critique group, or yourself. You can hear the rhythm and tone better and will become aware of problem spots that you might miss by reading silently.

Tightening--that's removing extra words. Take a look at the first sentence in the paragraph above that begins with 'Reading aloud'. My sentence '...reading it with the eyes is different from hearing it with the ears' could use pruning. How about '...reading it is different from hearing it', or even '...reading is different from hearing'. It's subjective, though, as to how much to trim. There's no right or wrong.

That's it for now. Back to the edits.

Keep writing, friends.

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