January 25, 2013

Talk About Random

Earlier this week, I made a vague resolution to go through my blog idea files and turn some of these notes into posts. As I mentioned, many of the ideas don't lend themselves to any further elaboration beyond the brief note I made, but I found some of these still interesting enough to share. So, miscellaneously:

→ For a while now, it's been the case that when I think of some detail or bit of dialogue I should add to one of the storylines I've already revised, more often than not I discover it's already in there. This seems like a good sign.

→ A while ago, I was talking to a friend who teaches music. She said many of her students don't like having to repeatedly practice the same section of a piece. They're only interested in playing the whole piece through. She has to explain that in order to improve, it's necessary to keep working on a section until it's right. "It's just like revising!" I said. (I say that a lot. Also, as a piano student I never had any patience for practicing either.)

→ In other analogies, writing a first draft is like packing for a trip in a station wagon: There's plenty of room, so you can throw in everything you might possibly want. Revising is like packing for a backpacking trip: You'd better make sure you're only carrying stuff you really need.

→ Recently I saw a movie that had a tense conversation between two characters before one drove away, accompanied by overdone music. "We really didn't need those dramatic strings to know that was a dramatic scene," I said aloud. (I'm annoying when I watch movies at home.) I've noticed I have a bad habit of doing the equivalent thing in my writing: My narrators frequently have a moment of emotional reflection about what's just happened. In trying to underscore the significance, I'm accidentally weakening the scene. Time to get rid of those dramatic strings.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Alicia Rasley at edittorrent looks at the difference between subtle and obscure exposition: "The more sophisticated the writing and plotting, the less obvious the exposition. But that doesn't mean there's no exposition, only that it's done subtly and carefully through the characters in a way that is consistent with the way they think, speak, and interact."


Anna Scott Graham said...

I LOVE the packing analogy, oh my goodness that is so true! I also appreciate the dramatic strings; great post!

Lisa Eckstein said...

Thank you, Anna! I'm glad I pulled these scraps out of the files and assembled them into a post.

NeilFred said...

Aha, you see, didn't I always tell you that writing was just like packing?

Lisa Eckstein said...

And don't I always listen to everything you say?

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