Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shorter and sweeter

Following up on that, my narrative tends to run on too, at least in the first draft. I often suffer from "why use one word where five will do instead" disease, and I think it's because my winging it writing style tends to result in a first draft that's a little crude. And by that I mean I often end up using the same descriptive words more than once in too short a span, or recycling a narrative theme or bit of dialogue too quickly.

But the rewrite process doesn't just begin after "The End" is finally written; that's just the official start. In reality the rewriting begins pretty much the moment after I've written the first thing. I re-read my stuff over and over again -- sometimes because it's really good and I enjoy it, sometimes because I can't quite figure out how to fix it.

All that re-reading does the trick though: those repeated themes or words are edited out; descriptive phrases are shortened; better choices of words are sought and found; adverbs are occasionally excised (though I'm not the sort who believes that use of "-ly" adverbs is the sign of a lazy writer, there usually are better ways to modify a verb).

And the result is an always better, and usually shorter, draft of the original. That particular section may not end up shorter -- sometimes I think of something else to add to the narrative, which will itself eventually be streamlined and improved -- but I think it becomes an easier, quicker read. Because it's better.

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