Thursday, July 23, 2015

I'm intellectually lazy.

I'm two chapters from the end of Gargoyle Dreams. When I'm done, I'll need to work on some continuity problems.

I've decided I'll do all that next week.

Today, I started thinking about my process again.  Long discussions talking to myself.  I have a vague idea of what I'm trying to do.  By thrashing it out, I can usually clarify those ideas.

When I came back to writing, I'd thought for 25 years about what I'd gotten wrong with the process the first time.  I had a set of rules and/or guidelines about how to write.

These ideas were mostly borne out.  I've figure out a very efficient way to write that first draft.  I'm happy with that whole process, and I've refined it over time. 

But what I hadn't really thought about during the interregnum was the equally important process of rewriting.  Other than the rule that I not let a book go until I think it's ready. (No more "good enough.")

I'm intellectually lazy.  Rewriting is mostly an intellectual process.  So combine those two facts, and it's like matter/anti-matter: they cancel each other out.

I generally believe that most of my stories could benefit from a little more description.  More fleshing out. Just more.

I've tried all kinds of tricks around that.  I find if I stumble across a sentence or paragraph by surprise, I can see what needs to be fixed easier than if I try to systematically go through the book.  So I give myself time to just randomly drop in on a book.  I look for certain triggers -- a paragraph that is almost another line, and search the paragraph for some detail I can add.

Just tricks.  They work, but they are spotty. 

I've learned that messing with the continuity is usually a mistake, but sometimes has to be done.

I've learned that adding and subtracting is usually all right.  If I start out the story without enough ingredients, than adding those ingredients later is only smart.

Course corrections are fine.

The more thinking in advance I do, the less rewriting is necessary. However, I discover story by writing, and there is only so much outlining that is useful.

Writing new material is easier for me than changing existing material.

Here's the thing.  My first drafts, plus my cursory editing, plus professional editing and suggestions from beta readers, I think usually make my books "good enough."  So it's easy to just go with that.  I've tried to hold my feet to the fire to get better than that, and with the books that have so far been released, I think I've mostly succeeded.  But it is a constant struggle.

The latest trick I'm using is to read a chapter, then go off and let the poetic part of my brain work on it, and just start jotting down what comes to me.  Then go back to the chapter and see if any of the stuff my subconscious has come up with is an improvement.  Usually, there are some nice thoughts and phrases I can use.

Today I came up with what I think is another improvement in the rewriting process.

More on that tomorrow.

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