Sunday, January 18, 2015

writing is editing

Editing not only changes a piece of writing; it also transforms the writer. I recently read a quote about how a writer changes from the first book to the second. That idea stuck to me, that the old you already wrote the first piece of work. It doesn’t matter what a reader thinks of the quality of the book. The process itself is transformative. The side effects of the process are transformative.

I thought of some of my favorite editing tips I learned throughout the years. Writers are an incredibly supportive community and connecting with them has helped me more than anything.

-Put a piece of work in a different font before rereading it.

-Read your work out loud. (Zadie Smith famously advised to read your work as an enemy would!)

-Take time between drafts.

-It’s easy to throw out parts of your story that are bad but you know your work has improved when you’re throwing out parts that are good.

-Every page and chapter should give the reader a reason to move on. Leave space for secrets, conflicts, and cliff hangers.  

-Sit with each character and study his or her arcs. Make sure there is a sense of change from the beginning to the end of the story.

how people fall in love

Did you see this piece in the New York Times about how people fall in love? It describes the psychological experiment conducted by Arthur Aron and explores the questions that have been proven to build intimacy between two strangers.

When we write stories, we set up the circumstances for new relationships to form. Our characters embark on paths, get in trouble, break up or make up, and find a new sense of normal.

There are numerous factors attributed to the start and success of romantic relationships: timing, compatibility, effort, the willingness to be vulnerable, etc. As the child of an arranged marriage, I've always been fascinated by what makes long term relationships thrive. My family, friends, and I have had discussions on the blurry areas between choice and chance, working harder and letting go.

I just never thought a set of questions could pave the path to love.

Favorite gems from the article:

"It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time."

"I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected."

"Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be."