I'm done with chapter 21--sort of. I ended up splitting Chapter 20 after all, because it was just so damn long. So not much new writing to report.
I do seem to have found my attention and motivation, though.
I was oddly emotional last night. I don't know if it was my emotions mirroring those of Chris, my protagonist, or if it was something else. It made it hard to write, though.
I finally got my hands on Dwight Swain's book that everyone swears by. It's almost thirty years old, hard to get, and written in a rather twee style. It also tends to spend a lot of time in generalities before getting down to specifics. But get down to specifics it does, eventually. I'm on chapter three and I found some good, concrete, practical advice that I've no doubt heard before, but here it was presented with explanations for why these techniques work. It may be that it was the right advice reaching me at the right time--maybe I'm ready to learn this now, and wasn't before.
I spent several hours editing chapters 20 and 21 with an eye toward the techniques I read about last night. I don't want to get too specific until I start to get feedback that notices the difference, because I'll feel silly if I make a big deal about it and it turns out to be nothing. But basically it's about making your writing more active and less passive . . . about the momentum of prose and how to keep it going.
I think I'm pretty proficient with words, and yet, I generally feel that there's some element of polish I can't put my hands on that the writers I love have that I lack. I've got a good vocabulary, a good grasp of grammar, a good ear for sentence variety, and yet somehow the passages that sing only come along occasionally, and I haven't figured out how to make those less of a minority. It may be that some of the things Swain talks about in the second chapter of his book are the pieces I'm missing. After reading this chapter, I was looking through my manuscript and seeing all sorts of places where I committed the sins that Swain says stop a narrative. Perhaps I've been writing a lot of passages that are technically sound, but I haven't grasped how to hook and keep readers. Maybe I just learned some of the keys I didn't even know were there.
I hope so.
I'll report back as I get more of a sense.
I just noticed that every paragraph in this post begins with "I." Huh.
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