I was thinking about prose style last night, and I went back and started re-reading the beginning of my last year NaNo effort, If You Can Get It. I hadn't re-read any of the novel since finishing it. At first, I figured I needed some distance before I could come back and revise successfully. When I've first put words on the page, it's hard for me to imagine them being other than they are. They still sound like I meant them to sound. When I come back after a while, I'm able to see how they fell short of conveying what I meant them to, and revision become possible.
Re-reading the first seven installments, I was kind of shocked at how telegraphic the narrative style was. The first couple in particular were almost more like a script: all dialog with a few visual queues, but not enough description to put you in the place and very little of what the characters are thinking or feeling.
Some of this was a deliberate choice. One of the beginner weaknesses I was trying to fight is the need to describe everything, regardless of relevance. What do people look like, how is the room laid out, what at they wearing, what is the irrelevant stuff that happens between plot point A and plot point B? I recall that one of the rules I was trying to employ throughout was, "Do we need to know this, and if not, leave it out." That may have focused things a bit, but re-reading I think I took it too far and the narrative seems kind of dry and sterile as a result.
I remain divided as to whether to go back to this one and flesh it out into a finished novel at some point. Over the last few months a couple plot ideas fell into place which I think would improve the second half in terms of pacing and plausibility, plus sharpen some character conflicts.
However, in general I'm more interested right now in working up the WW1 novel that I'm hoping to start posting next year. Plus the challenge of writing a historical novel seems like a good place to work out the need for richer narrative description that I was noting.
Translating Psalms (19)
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