The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

How do you know where to insert information so that it's seamless? The only way I know is to work it out gradually, over many drafts, by painstaking trial and error. I can't tell if it's:

a) in the wrong place
b) too long
c) too short

except by moving, cutting, moving again, adding back, deleting, moving, splitting up, moving. As the drafts go by I lose my feel for how the piece reads, and this makes the process many, many times harder. I wonder if there's some trick or rule of thumb to bypass some of this frustration. I already know to print out with changed margins and font to make the reading fresh--but that's just removing some of the downtime I'd use letting the ms get "cold." It's not something that streamlines the actual writing time.

This is a question of pacing, I guess. Hmm. Maybe if I think of info as dead weight...the way to carry a dead weight is to spread it out in small bits over a broader space. Or make it not dead weight. So maybe one rule of thumb re. info might be to either:

1) trim every bit of excess fat then spread it out
2) make carry more meaning than is called for*

That doesn't solve the problem, though. It's just verbalizing what I do during the many drafts of trial and error. Jeez. I dunno. Would it help to be more mindful of the above as I work, or less mindful? I just want this stuff to disappear into the ms, that's all. Is it too much to ask? I just want the reader to know what I already know, so they can read without having to stop. I just want to keep things moving!

*This is probably unclear. The only example I can think of right now is not quite the same thing, because it's not strictly information in the same sense as a chunk of backstory or an explanation of relationships. But it's all I've got now because it's fresh in my mind. Yesterday I rewrote a description of how my characters got over a 12-foot-high brick wall. I did have them boosting each other up, blah blah blah, just a straightforward cold description of how it happened. Yesterday I opened the door for double duty because I started touching on how they did it in businesslike, practiced silence, so now there's room to imply that they've done it many times before, and also that they're so of the same mind that they can work together without having to discuss it. So the description could be a lot more than just "They did A, B, and C and then they were over the wall."

The thing is, I know all this, and know how to do it, and it's almost embarrassingly elementary to look at, written out here. But it's hard to hold a bunch of different things in your head at once. At least, it is for me. I lose the elementary stuff I know how to do, because my head is full of other things I'm trying to do.

But...I don't see how to make backstory do more than is called for. Maybe come at it backwards? Instead of having a piece of backstory and making it do double duty, look for other stark bits that only have single duty, that could possibly take on some wee bits of chopped-up backstory? You know, I just don't think I'm that smart--to read for revision while holding two layering tasks in my head at once. I suppose it's possible my gut could do it, though.

This is one long footnote. I sound like a rambling loser of a writer who hasn't got a clue, compared to all the smart blogging writers who just sit down and write their books. Oh well--back to work.

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