Tuesday, March 09, 2010

'In a moment,' My Ass

Listening to the middle section section of my book (a little more than a third in terms of word count), I'm drowning in transitions that reflect some version of passing time. Most of them have the word 'moment' in them, and most of them need to be shown the door.

I know I've said it before, but I can't recommend listening to a reading of your story (even a lousy computer-generated reading) to guide the editing process strongly enough.

It's true that rewriting the old-fashioned way is helpful, but, at least for me, there's a snow-blindness that makes it far too easy to glide over all manner of problematic prose. Beyond improving the hunt for errors, I find myself having more 'brainstorms' about how to draw threads consistently through the story when I listen than I would otherwise.

The listening is especially good for giving you a sense of how well tension plays out in your story. Several times, I've realized that I've laid out some form of drama only to pay it off far to soon to allow for real tension to take hold. This tension (or lack of it) seems far more evident in the listen that in the read.

I'm not at all sure if this is due simply to the snow-blindness (I've read all the words 20 times for every listen), or if there's something more fundamental about a listen. But in the end, I don't suppose it matters. The out-loud version of editing is helpful in ways red-pen-to-paper isn't.

Another happy side effect of the out-loud edit is that it's fun. The story becomes more like a product you might have purchased someone than like the same words-on-paper crap you've been staring at for months on end.

If I haven't sold you by now on the concept of Out Loud Editing, I don't suppose I ever will. So I'll just say it one last time. Give it a try.


Anonymous said...

Happy upcoming birthday

Trevor Hambric said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the wishes and for the fun little mysterious anonymity.