Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fine Tuning

Fine tuning my writing is something I enjoy now, but it hasn't always been that way. Maybe it's an indication I'm learning to appreciate the craft of writing as much as the creative experience. The creative component is why I started writing. It's the "fun" part. Creating characters and their realities and experiences. The thinking, planning, brooding on plot. Settings and scenes. Actions that advance the plot, pulling the reader in and moving them forward. For me, this is what writing was about for the first couple of years when I started to write long stories.

My problem, like many other young writers, is that when I created and put the story down on paper, I fell in love with my words and thought the first draft must be pretty close to being finished. Man, it's a different perspective I have now.

The first draft is fun and tedious and requires more thinking than writing, without question. But editing and revising is now just as much fun for me, because I have a more refined perspective on the process of writing.

The first draft is just the beginning, the shape and the form of the story. Maybe most of the right words are in there, but not quite in the right order. It's definitely too many words, and the knife must cut deep, sparing no word that doesn't carry its weight. It's like the camera coming into focus, the lines becoming clear and distinct.

It amazes me how, after revising the first six chapters of my current WIP countless times, I can still find a comma that needs to come out, or a way to rearrange a couple of sentences that makes it read so much better. I wonder how the hell I didn't see it the first fifty times I read it. But when it happens I say, "Yeah, that's the way it's supposed to go."

Rearranging sentences, restructuring paragraphs. I kind of like it now. The thing is, I know that once the first draft is complete I'll have already edited the thing hundreds of times, but I'll do a complete edit and probably still find thousands of words that need to come out.

It's okay, even preferable that it happens that way. I appreciate it now, because I know those first words I write, though I might fall in love with them, are just the beginning. The shape and form. I might have to take out some of my favorite lines to make it the best it can be. Unfortunate but true.

The focus and clearly projected imagery comes with fine tuning. This is where the prose takes on a voice that is distinct and in harmony with the tune of the story. We hope.

So I divide my time between creating new shapes and forms, and refining those that I've already created. My time is limited these days - bills and other such trivialities make considerable demands on my temporal resources - but I try to work on my current project for at least an hour or two every day. Sometimes more. It makes for slow but steady progress.

I need to make some progress now, before I get my towel and go meet some friends at the beach. Salty breezes to the ones it pleases...


At 10:17 PM , Blogger Kanani said...

My relationship with my 6 year old iBook ended today when the hard drive crashed forever.
Fortunately, I backed up everything online on iDisk.
So... I'm writing to you from my new Mac mini, which only took 5 minutes to set up! Wow!
Anyway, looks like I've got everything. What I don't have, I won't miss. But Fine Tuning...YES!

Glad to see you around. Tomorrow I'll be loading OFFICE and Quicken. I'm afraid I didn't back up Quicken, but the info is all online anyway.

At 5:16 PM , Blogger Wonderwood said...

Kanani, sorry about your iBook, but it sounds like you were pretty smart about backing everything up. I need to do that myself. I hope you continue to enjoy your Mac mini, new toys are always fun :-)


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