Saturday, April 13, 2013

Right Through It; Write Through It

Every writer knows about those trouble spots, resembling a stain on your best jacket. No matter how you struggle, it’s still right there, usually in the forefront, where it’s the first thing anyone sees. You have options for fixing the jacket: Replace it, dye it, take it to the cleaner’s.

You have options for refurbishing  your novel, also. Sometimes you can’t write the sentence, describe the character, or articulate that bit of backstory because…you don’t actually need to. That’s when you should draw your pen, pencil, or cursor right through it. How can you tell if that’s smart thinking? These questions might help.

1.      What does the scene lose if I omit this detail, description, or character?
2.      What does the novel lose if I just omit this scene?
3.      Is my point here so obvious that I can’t find a new way to frame it?
4.      Is my point here so convoluted that I can’t find a smooth way to express it?
5.      Is the issue that I don’t know what the heck I want to say?

The first four questions often suggest the “right through it” approach. The last one, though, begs for the “write through it” approach.

Let’s say you decide that you would cheat your readers by omitting that detail, sentence, or scene. But maybe you’ve already struggled until you doubt there’s enough chocolate in the world to fix those words or your frustration over them. The trick is tricking yourself into fresh strategies and restored energy (it can be a renewable resource). Here’s a bag of tricks.

ü  Command yourself to rework this passage for fifteen minutes.
ü  Forbid yourself to revise this section for more than fifteen minutes. (No cheating.)
ü  Fix one thing bothering you: the verb, the image, even the punctuation.
ü  Fiddle with this section for five minutes at the start or end of each writing session.
ü  Change the point of view. (Just for fun.)
ü  Change the character motivation. (Potentially even more fun.)
ü  Think about what you want to say every night for a minute before falling asleep. One morning you’ll awake knowing what you wanted to say and how to say it.

Tip: You’ll write happier by differentiating “right through it” from “write through it.”

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