Friday, November 9, 2018

Slogging Toward Spontaneity

In my optimistic youthful days I imagined writing to be an alloyed joy; envisioning hours spent flowing golden words onto page after page of a compelling tale, and having writ, hardly pausing my moving fingers to erase or revise a line of it.  I imaginged swimming in the clouds of creativity, grasping truth and raining delightful insights on my (mostly imaginary) fans.  I threw my stories about with great abandon, waiting for the adulation that would surely follow.

And waiting.  

As rejections amassed to a startling number, I began to intuit that perhaps my masturbatory tales were not so brilliant as I imagined and that my words had been more base metal than golden.

Thats when I realized that the writing game involved more than dreaming fantastic stories and vomiting words onto pages upon pages. Not only was laying out the story line properly important but writing also involved honing descriptive and narrative words into something meaningful to editors and readers instead of being random reflections of my own not-so-deep thoughts. I realized that there is craft involved that must be mastered.

My discovery that writing is an iterative process that never really begins to take shape until I have the rudiments* of a rough draft or a sketch plan/plot.  My first drafts are more often than not, sloppy messes of awkward phrasing, poor to horrible word choices, and a jumble of rambling chunks that are poorly organized relative to each other.  My second or third draft will see actual scenes being formed, which allows me to arrange them in the order that best tells the tale.  Another pass-through lets me filter each paragraph to contain but one strong thought as it advances the plot.

Once I've done these simple fixes I embark upon the long, slow slog of polishing each sentence, selecting the best way of phrasing an idea using the most effective words.  I've discovered that, as I slog along, my paragraphs become clearer and better serve to propel the plot.  I also often sense the emergence of rhythm or melody in the scenes.  I sometimes play these against the bass line to create novelty, heighten tension, or convey more emotion than mere sentences can achieve.

These are the actions that take me through consecutive versions until I reach the point where I am finally ready to present it for the judgement of others.

Then there are the revisions...

*Character(s), settings, chronology, and tone 


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