Mind reading. Not a skill possessed by many. If everyone could read minds there would never be any misunderstanding and no secrets. I have a hurdle to overcome as a new writer. I inadvertently think my reader can read my mind. The image in my mind is so vivid ; the characters’ facial expression, their physical features, their homes and so on. Writers create a world – whether it be some fantastical planet with alternate life forms or a recreation of the brownstone they grew up in on a New York street.
My point is, the reader cannot read our minds. And I am very guilty about not putting enough information out there to give my reader the full picture. I do it in my conversations too. I’ll start a sentence with “He called and wanted us to do…” and my boss will look at me and say “Who?” I forget he wasn’t in on the phone conversation and I have to start completely over in order to relay ALL of the pertinent information.
I’ll add a section of my WIP to give you an example. Just a little back story first. This is the novel I wrote during 2010 NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. After graduation, I went back to this novel to start the editing/revising process. During the month of November I just wrote. Whatever popped into my mind (which was sleep-deprived, caffeine/chocolate fueled and geared towards Black Friday shopping) went on the page. I did no research, no edits and no dictionary searches to see if I had the right word.
Here’s what the paragraph initially looked like.
Callie couldn’t believe it! Gabrielle English had asked her to do a photo shoot! The fact that it was a test shoot didn’t matter to her. It was a chance to work with the premier designer. A once in a lifetime chance that might never have happened if she hadn’t met Simon. Even if Simon had talked to his mother, it didn’t mean she had the job.
It would be tricky to get time off from the restaurant. If she went out there during the week, it might be a little easier to accomplish. She had already decided not to tell her mother about the job interview until or rather if she got the job. It would do no good to get her mother riled up about something that might not even pan out.
Doesn’t give the reader much information does it? Granted, I chopped this out of Chapter 5, so there’s a bit not privy to. The reader might be able to tell she’s excited by the exclamation point, but I didn’t show them how excited she was.
Here’s the current version:
Callie couldn’t believe it! She danced a little jig through her apartment, picking up a stuffed bear from her dressing table in the bedroom to give it a squeeze. Gabrielle English had asked her to do a photo shoot! The fact that it was a test shoot didn’t matter to her. It was a chance to work with a premier designer on the Gulf Coast; a once in a lifetime chance that might never have happened if she hadn’t met Simon. Even if Simon had put a bug in his mother’s ear, it didn’t mean she had the job. Just to have the opportunity to spend a few hours with the women of English Fashions was amazing.
She flopped down on her bed, arms spread out on the bedspread. Her smile faded slightly. She would be finished with finals, so trying to concentrate on studying wouldn’t be an issue. It would be tricky however to get time off from the restaurant. If she went to New Orleans during the week, it might be a little easier to accomplish. There were sporadic company parties during the week, but still slow enough that she shouldn’t be missed too much. She had already decided not to tell her mother about the job interview – that’s how she was treating this – until, or rather if, she got the job. It would do no good to get her mother riled up about something that might not even pan out.
This version is better. A bit more information for the reader to digest and help develop the scene and the difficulty Callie faces in getting to New Orleans for this interview.
Editing is work and sometimes it takes more than one read through to find exactly the right way to convey the picture. As I typed this entry, I revised the order of a few sentences and it made it so much better than the version I intended you all to read. So, as you can see, editing/revising can be a continual, never-ending process. But as a writer, I also have to know when to stop editing and let it stand. The trick is to let the writing sit for a few days before chopping it completely to pieces. I read a related blog just this morning (http://weavingataleortwo.blogspot.com/) For me, it’s usually a case of reading something in the morning and then reading it again in the evening. I usually catch more in the evenings. I don’t know if my brain is already awake or if I’m relaxed because the days’ work is complete and I can relax and focus on my writing.
Either way, I have to find a way to break through my mental barrier between what I see in my mind and what filters through to the paper. I have to remember it’s up to me to show my readers what I’m seeing. Advice from one of my professors helped me understand what I was doing wrong. “A writer doesn’t have the audience there to explain what they meant by a certain phrase or the chance to expand the scene further; it has to be done right the first time.”
I have to show my readers what I mean and what I see. After all, they can’t read my mind.
*Have a great weekend everyone.