Thursday, July 03, 2008

From Hand to Fingertips

I finished a flash fantasy today.  Well, as finished as a polished first draft gets, anyway, before I'm done with it and send it off to various critique groups.  When I hand wrote it it came in too short, around 180 words or so.  Mulling over it for a couple of days helped deepen the idea so that by the time I sat down to transcribe it, it grew by a lot.  It sits at about 900 words at the moment.  

This is reverse of how I normally write in almost every sense.  I'll sit at the computer with an idea and type on it.  The prose is lush--too lush--way too many adjectives, long sentences trying to do too much, characters examining every detail of their cognitive process between fight scenes where every drop of blood is displayed in super-saturated colors.  When I reach the end I'll think about it and then play with it the next day or next week, editing on screen.  Then, when I foolishly believe I'm happy with it, I print it out and go sit in Not the Office space.  There I usually find several flaws, all kinds of grammatical silliness, extra pronouns and quite a few adjectives that escaped me on the first cull.  I type the hand-written changes in, and presto.  The focus is rarely on additions.  I cut cut cut until my little cutters won't cut no more.

Writing long hand into a notebook I wrote sparsely.  Very sparse.  I think it was due to having to write slow because I handwrite so much more slowly than I can type, which also gave me extra time to think.  The extra time wasn't well spent.  A whole bunch of stuff happened in my head that simply didn't make it onto the page.  So when I transcribed it I had to put flesh on the poor old bones, and on the final (semi-final anyway) pass I put skin on the flesh.  Tada!

I think I ended up in the same spot, but I can't tell these things.  Maybe my critique group will tell me all about it.  Honestly I'd rather hear them say that I didn't achieve my normal quality than 'it's the best thing you've written ever!'  Why?  Because I can type a lot longer than I can handwrite.  Hand cramp from hell ...

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