22 October, 2011

The Rewrite Shuffle

Right now I'm doing a world-building pass on the novel, to make sure that all the relevant elements of the world are explored in enough detail (but not too much; I don't want them getting in the way of the story and characters, I just want institutions and historical facts and other details mentioned at least once before they become relevant later on).

But I can't stop myself from editing the prose along the way. I realize that the presentation of information about the story world is affected by the words used to present them, so maybe that's part and parcel and I should just embrace it; at the same time, I feel like work done to make the prose tighter is wasted, because it could all change later on (due to some story element).

And yet, I can't help it. If I turn on read-only mode on the document, I end up just reading and not analyzing. But the editing process takes much longer if I'm constantly stopping to adjust word choice.

Perhaps it would be helpful to go through the novel and write a scene list, with information about what details are presented where, to give an overview of the story. Then I would be able to analyze the world-building elements without getting caught up in the prose. That just sounds really time-consuming, and I'm not sure it would lead to a better outcome in the long run. There's also the fact that whenever I change anything in the text, I'd have to change the outline as well to stay in sync with it. And I've already got a good grasp on what world-building details are where.


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