I’ve been hard at work editing again. I do a lot of tinkering, smoothing out the plot, and trying to make sure that the story I want sings. However as I edit, it becomes very clear that I have certain weaknesses. For me, putting it out there and acknowledging my flaws helps me ove past them. Considering I have plenty of flaws, I’m going to make this into a little series. I’m going to focus on problems that I have or had, but if you have any suggestions I’d be willing to tackle them as well.
When I read books, characters move through the scene, but there every moment isn’t defined. In many cases movements are inferred. You read sentence after sentence and it isn’t filled with constant motions. The writing flows. There are movements being orchestrated, but there are also thoughts and inferences based on dialogue and the like. It changes the way it reads and makes it feel less redundant.
Don’t get me wrong, not every sentence is a character moving through the world. I do have a higher than normal number of movements. I change the structure,but it’s still a he did, she did at the end of the day. Noting this with my writing I knew that something desperately had to change. What I was writing I enjoyed, but the actual writing didn’t feel up to snuff. How is someone supposed to enjoy my story if they are constantly getting stuck on how repetitive the writing feels even if it’s not saying the same thing. If I were reading the book, it would be a definite knock against it.
Thus the need for change.
The reason I do this is because I’ve been told that you should show and not tell. As a result, I internalized that as showing how a character reacts rather than just expressing it through thoughts. For so long I had it in my head that if I just show the characters moving through the world and letting the reader infer how they may be feeling or other subtext by displaying their actions I was doing it right. I felt good that I wasn’t waxing poetic about how a character was sad without actually showing how that character is behaving that makes them sad. I mean as we watch the world, people don’t have little signs over their heads telling us how they feel or what they are thinking. I thought showing
I plan on changing that by doing better. No. Saying that is just a cop out. Obviously if I were to simply do better I wouldn’t be running into the problem quite so frequently.
What I actually intend to do is take a good look at what I’m trying to say in each sentence. Rather than forcing my mind to shift on a dime and write differently, I’m going to allow myself to continue on. Enter the editing phase. Generally, when I’m orchestrating these movements I’m allowing everything going on in my head to play out like a movie. When I then need to do is expand on what I’m writing. Dig into my characters heads. Most importantly, I’m going to take each of the sentences and see if I can write it in such a way that I’m not orchestrating movements, but highlighting other aspects of the scene without losing the intention. This should help me create variation within my writing.
Do you deal with orchestrating movements? What is your biggest issue in your writing?