word craft


Going backward

Years ago, my friend Natal­ie Bab­bitt and I were talk­ing about cur­rent projects, when she said, “I’m at that stage, you know it, when I am not sure how to go for­ward, so I’m just rewrit­ing.” I did know it. It hap­pens often. The best way to describe the process is that when you are stuck, the writer finds his/her way for­ward by going back­ward. That is, by rework­ing, defin­ing, shap­ing what you have done, you hope to find insights as to what should hap­pen. In essence, you are ask­ing your sto­ry, your char­ac­ters to tell you what to do. If you have writ­ten true (as Hem­ing­way might have said) there should be a log­ic about what comes next, how your sto­ry unfolds, con­cludes. That is where I am now with my cur­rent project; try­ing to get to the end, by going back to the beginning.

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