I’m going to talk about a bad habit I have. At least, I think it is. I haven’t thought of this as a bad habit until last night when it really sunk in for me.
I call it splicing. I don’t know if there is a more official literary term for it, it’s just what I call it. What is it? When I rewrite a scene, I go through and change things, add in others. I have copied and pasted dialogue, lines, descriptions, scenes, characters, etc into all kinds of things. I graft these things in and then smooth it all out to make sure continuity is maintained. A lot of the times I do this because I love a particular scene but I want to change the setting, the time, who was involved, etc.
In doing these revisions I have made one character more prominent. She’s going to die later and one of the complaints I received was that her death isn’t very impactful and overall she’s just not a very well developed character.You don’t get to know her and don’t really understand why my main character is effected by it. A classic example of creator complex. I know why, but I failed to make it clear. It was also rushed and I always knew there was going to be a fleshing out of these events. I knew that some other things had to happen with these particular scenes and her being a part of it has really worked.
One thing I didn’t know I was going to do was have her present for two chapters that make up one my favorite scene in the story. They were my favorite to write and really give a unique perspective into my world, my magic, my character, and all the things that make these unique to my story.
But now she’s involved. The sequence of events, to me, does’t have to change much but now there is an additional person. Two person dialogue became three person, dialogue that was between two very close people now has a third person who needs explanation. A whole scenario, which is normal, and unfortunately shameful, to the two now has a whole new person viewing it who is confused and possibly appalled by what she sees.
How did I resolve this? Rewrite two whole chapters? My favorite two chapters??? Nooooo, I read through and started splicing in her presence, smoothing it out as I go. I’ve always thought of this as very natural, and literature is one of the things I thought you could easily do that with. With film, if you wanted something changed more than likely you would need to shoot it again unless it was CG being added or line dubbing. With writing its all very fluid and you can change a whole scene with just a few words.
The more I do it with these scenes though, the more unnatural it looks. I posted a link in the A Funny Thing Happened While Writing post to C. Hope Clark’s post on doing this. At the time I said it was terrifying and still see it as so. In case you didn’t read it, it was essentially about how she wrote her book and then threw it away. She rewrote it again and threw it away again. That gives me the shakes. Nothing wrong with it, but I don’t know if it’s for me. I just also think that going through and splicing in details is creating these Frankenstein moments, moments that feel like a bumpy road trying to read it. This is going to be something I work on, because I may be making a Frankenstein, but the last thing I want is for anyone to see the stitches.
Does anyone else do this?