Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slow Discernment

Revisionzzzzz. Recently I decided that every sentence of my manuscript should be perfect.

Because after all, if you think about it, why wouldn't you want every sentence to be as good as it could be, just right ... perfect? Exactly. That's the trap I found myself in this morning.

No problem I said, heroically sipping coffee from my special Writing Mug, I'll just go through and check 'em all. So I started, after some more coffee (no reason to be barbaric), and it -- was -- working!

Sentences and paragraphs that previously hadn't been quite right, or which had been good but not great, I examined, turned inside out, dissected and rebuilt, diced and recombined, or (best of all) deleted.

It's scary how much I was changing. In fact, it was almost like re-writing the whole book, one sentence at a time, just like the first draft. So it was alternately frustrating and exhilarating to realize there was a different and better way to say most things.

This is where discernment comes in, and judgement. Does the rhythm of this sentence work? How about the sounds of the words: rhymes or alliteration or mushiness? Should the clauses be reversed to emphasize something different? Can I pick a slightly different metaphor that will resonate through multiple meanings? ("darkness at its center" was one I landed on this morning).

It's great that this was working (which for me, maybe for many writers, means: not failing) but it was. very. slow. After half an hour I'd gone through two pages, which is about as fast as writing the book from scratch.

At this rate it will take weeks and weeks to go through.

But so what? The book needs it so that's what it gets. Time to make some more coffee.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Is that a bit like "finishing" a painting then going back over brushstroke by brushstroke and re-doing the entire painting so that instead of the Mona Lisa, you might have a Turner Storm at Sea?