More about issues with writing by MLR

Still putzing away slowly at my current project. I ran into a funny issue, something that pops up in rough drafts of mine (where I'm creating the copy from scratch or just from an outline), and I was curious if anyone else has encountered it. Maybe I'll call it "levels of creativity". Creativity in this case pertaining to sentences and sentence structure.

Here's an example, pulled from the current draft of what I'm writing:

  • Qiitsneh found that opening that door summoned a coyote-kin to the top of the building's one stairwell. He rummaged around dirty white fur on his sternum with one black nail, raising into view a mess of tangled flesh on his forearm. His snout raised up and sniffed the air while he proceeded to his place in reach of the stock. He stuck out a hand and stood thus until Qiitsneh approached and took it. That same snout pointed to the west. Qiitnseh nodded.

So, I wrote that a while ago, but reading it now I'm concerned at how... linear it is. This happened, then this happened, then this happened. The only level of creativity there is the varied sentence length and a bit of the imagery. Also, this is from a passage in which I was playing around with two characters having a conversation without speaking to each other. But it's very boring to read.

What I've been doing in editing, then, is to play around with passages like that and turn them into something a bit more interesting. Here's what I came up with just now to fix that passage:

  • Qiitsneh found that opening that door summoned a coyote-kin to the top of the building's one stairwell, snout raised in the air, black nail rummaging around a patch of stucco fur in one of the harsh valleys on his chest. Wood croaked at each step down, turning to hushed scuffing on the dirt floor, his hand outstretched in cursory brotherhood.

A bit shorter, a bit smoother, and more importantly, less like a list of things that happen. I've attempted to make the descriptions a little more complicated, more ideas piled into one phrase. "Stucco fur" -- replacement for "dirty white fur", because "stucco" gives you a very specific idea of what it looks like, its texture, and so on. "Cursory brotherhood", which is to say, he's putting out his hand for a handshake because that's the polite thing to do in a situation when a stranger comes into your pub, but he's not showing any real excitement about said stranger's presence.

I imagine if I wait a week and come at it again, I could get it a little better still, but you get the idea. Now, I've been trying to keep from writing such bland paragraphs as I go at the rough for this part of the novel, but apparently I haven't really succeeded. I think there are just too many things to think about when writing, that in order to get all of them more or less right just takes a few tries no matter what you do. Or else I'm just a dummy and can't balance things in my brain as well as other folks can.

What do all you other writers think?

More about issues with writing


29 August 2016 at 20:36:42 MDT

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