Saturday, July 26, 2008

Micro book

Friday morning I printed out a tiny version of my manuscript and got to work identifying problem spots.

Compressing 61,000 words into 40 pages took some font- and margin-monkeying, but 7-point Times New Roman is about as far as I can go without a magnifying glass.

The beauty of this method -- besides just alarming the cats by spreading paper across what is usually their hairy realm -- is that I can see the rhythm of problems. I can (literally) visualize not just the balancing counterpoints of scene and tension but, for example, the surprising fact that most of my scene issues are in the first half of the book.

Or maybe that shouldn't surprise me, given the amount of dilly-dallying and meandering I tend to do in a draft before getting down to the business of telling the story.

The good news, I suppose, is that the second half is fairly clean.

My main problem seems to be an over-reliance on dialogue to tell the story, rather than narrative telling the story. I like writing dialogue; it's fun, and it comes easily to me. Too easily, it turns out.

Now: to work.

p.s. Now I can post pictures. Ho ho ho.


Peter S. said...

What I've tried to do for my narrative is draw out a roller coast of the narrative flow. Kind of an EKG for story. I think if I did one for my current story, it would also be a long paper trail on the floor, and an easily-scanned summary of the story. What if you color-coded paragraphs or chapters for intensity and/or interest?

There must be some way to convert text into another visual medium that can be easily scanned for functionality, pacing, flow, etc. I still haven't come up with a good enough metric to measure these things in writing, but would love to hear suggestions. Once you have the metric, the actual charting is easy.

Might your 40-page draft be highlighted in a way so you can stand above it and read it all at once, like a conductor seeing the whole score?

S R Wood said...

Peter -- That's exactly right: what I'm hoping for with the micro-book is the ability to see it all at once, the ebbing and flowing, large-scale thematic movement, rather than the chapter or even scene-specific issues that are so incredibly distracting in revisions.

Some people do take different colored markers to a printout like this, to show different aspects such as dialog, backstory, transitions, etc.

I was trying to focus on one specific problem ... plus I only had one Sharpie.