Monday, October 29, 2007

Need a new mantra

I've written before about how my mantra during the drafting stage was "Just add sentences" and how I needed something similarly focused and practical to focus my attention during the rewrite.

I'm coming up with some ideas, though they don't quite catch the spirit of practicality.

One is "Just go deeper."

That does capture something essential and important, but it's abstract and metaphorical. It doesn't tell me what to physically do with myself when I'm stuck and I can't think my way to the next step.

Another is "Just add details."

That is a lot more practical but not quite enough so. "Adding sentences" implies a place that is self-evident. You add sentences at the end of where you wrote last. But where do I add details? The problem is less linear, more three dimensional and not at all self evident.

(Although a reasonable inference might be, "Just add details to the scene following the place you reviewed last.")

Besides that, it may not be critical enough. While just adding sentences--without critical regard to their meaning or utility--makes sense to get a shy novice through a first draft, the rewrite feels like it needs more deliberation. What I really want to do is add details that build depth to the characters, complexity to the plot and weight to the theme.

But insisting on that condition is probably the wrong attitude. It's OK to be wanting that, but the point of the my first draft mantra was to keep me working even it if wasn't useful work, and I probably need the same kind of crutch still. It's a creative process. I need to keep the creative habit going even if it's off base.

Just add details (that preferably add depth etc. but if not add them anyway.)

No comments: