Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Rhythm

John here.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Lots of good cheer in the Corrigan household: I've been on holiday vacation since Dec. 17, and I'm spending the break doing what I love to do – writing and rewriting.

I'm working hard on the 2017 Peyton Cote book. My primary focus at this point, aside from the twin towers (character and plot) is rhythm. It might sound funny to hear a crime writer say that. You might expect to hear it from a musician (or, perhaps, a poet). But I've always written by ear. Scenes need to ebb and flow between narration and dialogue, the narrative tension dancing between slack and taut.

This means I spend a lot of my "writing" time simply listening. Right now, I'm listening to the opening 25 pages over and again, using text-to-speech software or reading them aloud to myself. Where do I need to break a line of dialogue by inserting attribution to create a pause and in turn emphasize what is being said? Similarly, where can I place a sensory detail to allow the reader to breathe and take in plot details? Questions like these are written here by the editor in me. They aren't ones I'm cognizant of while working. While working, I'm simply listening and reacting.

Ebb and flow. Rhythm means everything to me. This means a lot of complete sentences are slashed to fragments to improve pacing. How do I know when I've used too many fragments? It all comes down to the sound check.

Writing by ear isn't the most time-efficient method. Listening to the same paragraph five, six times in a row crashes the text-to-speech software sometimes. And a scene or chapter is never done until I can listen to it the whole way through without making a change.

Family Christmas Card

No, not fast – ebb and flow takes time. But, hopefully, efficient.

Happy holidays!


Sybil Johnson said...

Merry Christmas to you! I agree with the rhythm thing. I read my book aloud a lot, listening for those times when I need to shorten or lengthen sentences for the rhythm. Haven't tried the text-to-speech thing. Will probably do that next.

Donis Casey said...

I have the same feeling about rhythm and pay very much attention to the rhythm of my writing.

John Corrigan said...

Thanks for the comments. Merry Christmas! (The day feels had over with a 7-year-old in the house!)