at 120 pages, we turn and look back over our own shoulders

Thursday, October 16, 2014

At one point, our own partial manuscripts become our chief instructors and guides. The hidden symbols are there. The patterns. The characters who have more to say. Here, our early pages tell us, is the more that must be said.

We print. We retreat. We find a dark and alone hour. We look back over our own shoulders.

It is, for me, the only way to carry a story forward.

In the first twenty pages, I find prose that is working too hard, prose that is too much about language, because it doesn't know the full outlines of the story yet; the prose is guessing. I find gimmickry that no longer dazzles me, that won't let me get away with murder.

Adjustments needed. Made.

Pages 20 to 50, I find a story in better concordance with itself, but also: contradicting or sometimes repeating lines, a few bold experiments that go awry, some tangents that are no longer necessary.

Adjustments needed. Made.

Pages 50 on, the story seems to be in better control, and perhaps the real start is here, perhaps (I put the manuscript down, consider), the imagined heart of the story is not the true heart of the story. Perhaps a different structure, a new chapter break, will tell me more.

I need to further explore.

At 120 pages, we turn, look back, begin again.


Serena said...

Sounds like you are making good progress.

Cynthia Pittmann, PhD said...

You capture this writing process beautifully, Beth.

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