Every author I speak to usually prefers the process of creation–the development of the characters, describing their goal and motivation, the unraveling of the plot, throwing in conflict to force the characters to grow and evolve into the heroes or heroines we expect them to be, flawed humans that they may be and all.
— to the process of revision or edits.
But many also enjoy this second or third stage. It’s in the revision or edit stage where the layers of a story take on a new level of depth. Description is clarified, expanded, defined. Characters’ behaviors show us more about who and what they are and the story comes to life. The plot which was originally brushed [keyed] on the canvas [monitor] with broad strokes in the first version is now detailed [delete, insert, move] with a fine brush [dictionary] and an even finer palette [thesaurus]. The picture is becoming clearer, taking on an essence of its own. When you read the story it’s like studying a great painting; the more you look, the more you see… Or watching a great movie; each time you watch it you see the little details the director used to make that first impression just right.
When an author chooses a certain word or dialogue to show an action, or describe something, it often also sets the mood, defines the character, or foreshadows coming events. The decision to have a character say, “The kid’s a punk.” instead of “The child is troubled.” tells you more about the speaker than a paragraph long detailed description.
The next time you read a good book, think about the word choices the author used and think about why. Happy reading…