Friday, August 30, 2013

Who cares about the details?

Over this past week, I’ve been revising a few chapters of my Red WIP.  Now that I’ve finished writing the Blue WIP, I’ve switched gears.
Writing a first draft can be a rush – pen frantically scribbling, trying to keep up with the inner muse.  It’s probably one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had.  Each day, I can’t wait to find out what happens and to watch the characters leap from the page.

But for me, the slow, methodical process of editing and revising is even more rewarding.  It’s like practicing the piano.  After hours of practicing, hitting all the wrong notes, playing hands alone, at an excruciatingly slow page, and wondering if the song will get any easier.  (Trust me.  I have experience with this, just ask my piano teacher.)  There’s nothing like finally being able to sit on the bench, open the music and feel my fingers moving automatically.

And that’s exactly how I feel about editing.  It’s the moment to roll up my sleeves and put in the work that can be enjoyed at a later point in time.

It’s all about the details.  Watch passive tense, show don’t tell, create believable dialogue, making sure character’s personalities and motivations are consistent, watching POV, no head hopping, delete unnecessary adverbs, limit dialogue tags, vary sentence length… really, this list could keep going for quite a while.
And to be honest, I feel that I’ve mastered several of the above.

However, there is still one area that still eludes me.  And that’s the details.

I’m never quite sure when the reader wants to know more.  It’s only when my wonderful betas tell me that a scene is lacking.  

I’ve never been a particularly observant person.  In fact, one of my coworkers told me (repeatedly) that I have an appalling lack of curiosity.  I don’t need a detailed explanation for everything.  In fact, most of the time I don’t even need an explanation.  That’s how my brain’s been wired and often, I don’t notice when I leave the details out because I don’t think they’re necessary.

So after forcing myself to expand on the miniscule, I noticed an improvement.  Here’s a before and after:

A small giggle sounded and Aydra whirled around to stare at Rose, whose face held the first smile they had seen since her arrival.  Temar also stared at Rose before looking up at Aydra with bright eyes.  Aydra wanted to laugh and cry and cheer, at the sight of Rose’s smile and it somehow gave her the strength to stand up to her aunt.

“He will only be here a few weeks,” Aydra reminded Sasma.  “We need his help.”

At the sound of a small giggle, Aydra whirled around, almost unable to believe it wasn’t a trick of the wind. For the first time since she’d arrived, Rose’s lips quirked upward, the beginning of a smile evident on her face. Temar stared down at the young girl before pulling her in close and kissing the top of her head. Aydra wanted to laugh, cry and cheer at the sight. It made all of the early mornings, the sleepless nights and confrontations with her uncle worth it.

She glanced back toward the kitchen, surprised to see her aunt leaning against the door’s frame. In the shadows of the dusky light, the wrinkles around her eyes deepened. For just a moment, Aydra’s mind tugged on memories best forgotten. The curve of her aunt’s cheeks, as well as the high cheekbones reminded her of her mother, and a longing rose in her chest.

“He’ll only be here a few weeks,” Aydra reminded her aunt. “We need his help.”

What do you think?  Better?  Worse?  How do you add details?