Friday, February 19, 2010

Walking the Neon Line

My husband really loves me. I know this because he came home the other night bearing a gift of six new highlighters, each in a different electrifying color. He knows that I am agonizing over manuscript revisions and that red pens are so reminiscent of 4th grade math tests.

Even if you don't approach a story rewrite with your heart in your hand, the process is grueling. Yes, you have to deal with all of the pesky little weeds that crop up in your writing (sneaked or snuck?*). You also need to develop artistry. Make the words come alive and sing. For that, you have a plethora of technique and style books to lend a helping hand. Or nag you to death.

This is where I'm at now. I've spent so much time reading advice from others, I fear I am losing my own unique voice. If one more person tells me I must read Stephen King's On Writing, it's going to get ugly. Use right-branching sentences. Be poetic, but avoid annoying alliteration. Build tension in your dialogue, even if your characters are only talking about cake.

Don't get me wrong. I want to be teachable. It would be arrogant to think that I cannot learn from others and continue to hone my craft indefinitely.

However, at some point you have to put away your highlighters and trust your story. It has lived in the relative safety of your mind while you nurtured it. Its fluffy down has been replaced by sleek feathers. It's time to push it out of the nest and watch it fly.

Or is it?


*Apparently, either is acceptable, but "sneaked" makes you sound more polished.

4 comments:

  1. Don't dare destroy . . . um . . . alliteration.

    Dang.

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  2. Okay . . . anonymous was I . . . hit the wrong button. Agh!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps this is why authors have editors? Doing your own editing... well, that just sounds tough. Too close to your heart, I think.

    No advice here... :-)

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