Alexander Zoltai, whose blog (Notes from an Alien) and encouragement have come to mean a lot to this writer, suggested that it might be interesting to take a closer look at the subject of yesterday’s post: the hyper-focused rewrite I’ve been doing on the work in progress.
Hyper-focus at this stage of the work is two exercises in one. The first is like painting from two-inches away from the canvas. The big picture is hidden by proximity. Everything is close-in. The close view asks us to examine every brush stroke and color choice, every minute expressing of word and rhythm and punctuation.
Now the second exercise, the opposite number to the first. The rewrite also asks for a longer view; to answer questions of flow and pace. Does the story move? Does it demand the turn of the page? Does each thing that happens make the next one stronger?
Rewrites can race, as the beginning of this book did. And they can slog, as this effort is. Each thing we do suggests more that needs doing. Hyper-focus is backward/forward land.
The example that’s driving me now: A middle-of-the-night inspiration suggested that I move a section, not much longer than five paragraphs, much of it dialog. The character is making a decision that will eventually change everyone’s lives, and his most of all—although we don’t know that yet. It’s a perfectly good section where it is, as it is; it sets us up for the events to come. Buuuuuuut….
Move the section and a sleekness appears. Events occur with an impetus that is natural to them. A mood, a critical mass of emotion, appears. The necessary plot point that was a digression in its old home now helps our pace.
Except one can’t tell whether the move will work until its actually done. So we move the house, its foundation, its scaffolding…and THEN we see whether the change is appealing. Yikes.
This is how we think when we work. Perhaps more interesting (and more to Alexander’s point) will be the sharing of an original paragraph, then its rewrite and the reasons for the change. Let me get thinking on it. Stay tuned.