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There was a lot of mental mapping, trying to piece together the puzzle and how it fit. And, the danger as a writer, when you’re doing that, is that you can overload the reader with too much information.
In this episode, the second of two where we step through the comments Taylor made to Steve’s work in process, we look more deeply into her thought, action, dialogue hack, discuss the importance of not relying on what you think you know, consider the value of anchoring the reader and share some seriously good laughs along the way.
During the episode, we discussed the open to Chapter 3 in the manuscript we discussed. The original version is below:
The front door slammed shut waking me from one of those dreams you don’t want to be awakened from. I rolled right and squinted at the clock. 6:15. Crap. “Be right out,” I shouted, then jumped out of bed and into my shorts and running shoes. She was early this morning. “Is it cold?” “
Don’t be a pansy, little brother.”
I shook my head and pulled on a long sleeve shirt. After 32 years I was used to the various ways in which Melinda baited me. Pansy was one of her favorites. I brushed my teeth and walked into the living room, accepted the coffee she offered and took several sips. She was dressed in a blue Nike outfit that would keep her warm no matter how cold it was. “Why 6:15?”
Taylor made some minor modifications following her thought, action, dialogue hack, with the results below.
The front door slammed waking me from one of those dreams you don’t want to be awakened from. I rolled right and squinted at the clock. 6:15. Crap. Melinda was early this morning. “Be right out,” I shouted. I grabbed my shorts and running shoes. “Is it cold?”
“Don’t be a pansy, little brother.”
I pulled on a long sleeve shirt.
After 32 years I was used to the various ways in which Melinda baited me. Pansy was one of her favorites. I brushed my teeth and walked into the living room, accepted the coffee she offered and took several sips. She was dressed in a blue Nike outfit that would keep her warm no matter how cold it was. I said, “Why so early?”
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I ran across these words from Richard Russo (author of Nobody’s Fool and many more), in his book Elsewhere. It’s a long paragraph, but just thought one or both of you might like:
… novel writing is mostly triage (this now, that later) and obstinacy. Feeling your way around in the dark, trying to anticipate the Law of Unintended Consequences. Living with and welcoming uncertainty. Trying something, and when that doesn’t work, trying something else. Welcoming clutter. Surrendering a good idea for a better one. Knowing you won’t find the finish line for a year or two, or five, or maybe never, without caring much. Putting one foot in front of the other. Taking small bites, chewing thoroughly. Grinding it out. Knowing that when you’ve finally settled everything that can be,you’ll immediately seek out more chaos. Rinse and repeat.
That seems perfect for the work we’ve been doing on the past several shows, Karl. I do think I could afford a bit more of the “welcoming uncertainty” part into my own personal writing stew.
Thanks for sharing!