Friday, March 23, 2012
This has been moving week for the draft. All the plot elements are there, just not in the right place. I've been moving chapters all over the place. Each move involves a rewrite of the relocated chapter. I foreclosed on some chapters by moving them into the parking lot, where stuff that no longer works lurks in case I can use it later. Oddly, the overall word count hasn't changed significantly, but the words themselves have.
I'm a multi-draft writer. Up to twenty or more sometimes. Some chapters get more attention than others during the dusting and cleaning phase. The polishing phase tweaks more words, cleans up ugly sentences. I try to remember the difference between lay and laid, even though Rod Stewart really screwed up our use with his "Lay, Lady, Lay." I remove commas that, don't belong. The rule I try to follow is when, in doubt leave it, out. I'm in love with semicolons and colons, just not always in fiction: because colons are most often used incorrectly.
I take out my sword and slash and burn empty words. There is, it is--past and present tense. I take out white spaces where two characters are speaking for a page or two. I fill that white space with actions, not dialogue tags. I have people do something while they are speaking. Oh, you don't think people do things while they are talking? Just go to a restaurant and watch. People wave their hands, look up at televisions, wipe their hands on napkins (or pants), etc. We all twitch. I try and capture the twitches and itches people have.
Later, once I'm convinced the foundation, the structure of the story, is right, I'll begin polishing. I'll added words that evoke the five senses. Well, six, because one of the characters has a form of ESP. I'm make sure the location is a character because it influences so much of the action. I'll make sure the themes of racism, forgiveness, understanding and slavery are interwoven throughout the plot.
And then I'll start over again with more editing until it's ready to go to my agent. Until then, you'll find me at my desk, keys on keyboard, thesauri and grammar texts at the ready.