Friday, November 21, 2008

Richard Ford on revision

I found this quote from Richard Ford that gets at the trouble I've had defining exactly what my "rewrite" process is. What exactly is it that I was doing during that stage?

. . . I wrote the story to an end that didn't feel like the right end although it felt like an end. I showed the story to my friend Joyce Carol Oates, and she gave me the best advice any other writer has given me. She said, 'Richard, you need to write more on this story. Write more words.' And I had to figure out what more words to write.

That sums up very well the discovery I had to make and that I've called "digging" and "developing." The hardest trick during the rewrite process has been to resist the inclination to "fix" things and instead put myself in the mindset of adding more--of making more of a mess actually. It really is as simple as writing more words. I did have an ending, and all the other parts, that didn't feel like the right ending. The solution was more words. If the mantra every morning during the drafting was "just add sentences," the mantra since than ought to have been (and will be in my next book) "just add more sentences."

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