Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lie Detector

I've always recommended reading new writing aloud, as a test of fluency, as a way to replace those irksome editing commandments, such as 'the use of adjectives is lazy' or 'show, don't tell!' with a reliance on a more abstract, and more instinctive sense for what does and doesn't work. If you read a passage aloud, and it embarrasses you, or worse, bores you, the urge to see if something else might be more successful is pretty irresistible. It doesn't seem to work in your head. Well, it doesn't seem to work in MY head.

You need to...I mean I need to...apply the lie-detector, the tongue tapping away at the palate, prodding the backs of the teeth, wriggling in its soft bed. But I've always thought of this as a negative process, a way of putting wrong things right. What I had forgotten is how the act of animating text in my mouth makes the fictional voice go live, meaning the voice, finally, has begun to make its own demands, and the story begins to write itself. All of a sudden, my characters are jostling to tell the story. All of a sudden, 1000 words a day is easy as breathing, though it takes much, much longer.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

yes! that's the way it goes. You are so right, Jen