Posted by: steveonfilm | July 14, 2010

Say “What” One More Time

When I picked up my writing tonight I wasn’t ready to move forward to the next beat in the story. Something wasn’t sitting right with what I’d gotten done the other night. So I went back and read it over.

Reading over what you’ve written is something that some writers will tell you never to do. “Don’t edit until it’s done” they might say. “You’ll just think it sucks” others might say. My opinion on the matter varies. Sometimes I think it’s warranted. Sometimes I don’t. In this case I needed to go over how I’d presented the set up for my next beat, because how I set it up will completely determine how it plays out. And this next beat is important, because it builds directly to the midpoint.

So I read it over. And then I read it over again. And I read it a third time. And I realized that none of the dialog I’d written actually adds anything to the scenes. It was all just window dressing to get from point A to point B. I knew I wasn’t going to nail the dialog at this point, but it wasn’t setting the mood right. Ira needed to seem both skeptical and confident. Yet, he didn’t seem either. And unless I set his mood up right in this beat, the midpoint wasn’t going to play out well.

I ended up deconstructing the scene itself into smaller components, really looking at what each part needed to do. I would make changes to them, then go back and study them again. I wasn’t looking for perfect. I was looking for satisfied. I was waiting for the scene to capture the mood I was trying to get across, both on the page and mentally to me, because until I was confident that I’d captured what I needed I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write the next beat correctly.

I’ve read how some writers will split their writing time into revising what they wrote last session, and then writing new material after that. In a way they’re constantly editing the new writing they’d done the previous writing session. If I ever get a 5 or 6 day stretch where I can put together 4 or 5 hours day for writing, I might just try that out. But for now I simply don’t have the time. I’ll simply have to settle for going back over my stuff whenever I’m lacking that gut feeling I “got it right.”

Until next time, keep writing!

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