So, I’m still down among the commas, going through what I’m optimistically calling the Final Draft of Carousel Seas. I’m actually pretty pleased with it, in meta. There are of course, fiddly bits to be fiddled, a couple of scenes to be expanded and/or sharpened, but it was ever thus.
In point of fact, I spent this morning with a scene that I hadn’t red-lined as needing expansion; it was a pretty good scene and it did what it needed to do, which (so I thought when I was writing it) was to set up the next scene and the arrival on-screen of a character.
Now, we all know that it’s good if a scene carries its weight and also does at least one thing to move the greater story along. Right?
But, it’s even better, if a scene can carry it’s own weight, and move the big story along, and illuminate something new about the characters, and foreshadow an upcoming piece of business, and set up the next scene, with (now) an added twist of tension. That’s like — Super Scene.
So, anyway, tinking with this middling important bit, the work of which had been dealing with a necessary point of plot, and setting up The Arrival. And –I’m watching myself start to dig into the sentences, sharpening this viewpoint, upping the stakes, adding a bit of by-play to show the relationship between the two characters confronting this situation — and I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing, really, I’m just sort of doing some internal nodding, like I’m following along with whoever is actually doing the work, here: “Yeah, that’s good. Oh-ho! Why didn’t I see that? Nice, nice…” &c
I added maybe a hundred words to the scene, but it was enough to take it from a middling important scene that did its job, no muss, no fuss; to a scene that really rings some changes, and carries all that work I listed above.
And? I can’t tell you why I made the alterations that I did. Often when I’m going in to rework/strengthen/expand a scene, I’m going in with a game plan; an idea of what needs to be punched up (or down). This scene wasn’t even tagged as a problem; I had no game plan. I read the scene, my fingers rolled the screen back to the beginning and I started in, without any idea that anything was wrong, but a feeling that something could be better.
Which is why writing is an art, not a science.
Oh, and about Thomas Dolby?
The first time I heard “She Blinded Me With Science,” my ear wouldn’t make sense of it — there were too many “unnecessary” and “distracting” bits of business going on that had nothing to do — in my opinion as a non-musician — with the music.
And, yet — try to take out the seeming side-bits, and you get something that’s. . .flat, less diverse, and very much less joyously loony.
So now you know what it’s like, down here among the commas, at least some of the time.
I’m going to go get some lunch, and get back to it.