With great writing there is great clarity.
~ David Costabile
That is precisely why I’ve got my notebook out again, jotting down elements of the manuscript I’m revising in hopes of making connections I’ve missed so far. It’s hard to admit, but my story lacks focus. How that can still be true in the fourth draft I do not know. What I do know is this:
With mediocre writing there are muddy waters and confusion which result in the reader not knowing exactly what she’s supposed to root for or why any of it matters.
Word of the day (and probably however long it takes to finish this draft) = CLARITY.
Today as I work on my novel, I am thinking ahead, hoping ahead, to the day when a reader reaches for my story. Last May, I photographed this man perusing a “Book Exchange” in Stockholm and am posting it as a motivator. I aim to create the most compelling, reader-enticing story I can write, dammit.
This photo hangs on the wall at my brother’s house. Here he is with the smiling Wildebeest and Zebu, many years ago. I’m not sure any of them remember the exact moment the picture was taken, but love and happiness are written all over this image. It’s no coincidence that a book’s involved.
There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.
~ Maurice Sendak
For a long time I mostly resisted watching those “Inside the Episode” segments that seem to be all the rage in cable shows. They come on after the episode to supposedly give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into that creative world. But one “insider” bit I’d watched had the show’s creator saying stuff about the characters that was so obvious, it felt like talking for the sake of talking. (I’m looking at you, Lena Dunham.)
Zippy and I have recently started watching a show we really like, and thought we’d give the “insider” thing another try. We watched a few of those segments and enjoyed getting the creators’ take on what they were trying to accomplish. However, the last one I watched was especially valuable for me as a writer.
The creators/writers talked about an interaction between two of the characters and said the one character acted selfishly and purposely put down the other character. That wasn’t my take. I’d interpreted the first character as being a bit clueless, but also truly coming from a good place. I’d still liked and rooted for her until I got the insider treatment which has now warped my sense of that character.
My two takeaways:
1) Stop watching “Inside the Episode” segments
2) I can’t control how readers will react to what I’ve written.
There’s intent and then there’s interpretation.