Dec. 11, 2014

"Polishing the piece"

A friend started this by asking what I thought "polishing," a piece of writing meant. I offered a mostly correct, and inane answer about bon mots, etc. But it made me think.

The first thing I remembered was being instructed early in my life with a writer's group, to "clean up" my stuff before submitting it for comment. I had no idea what that meant.

It occurred to me that I have only (very) recently gotten a handle on what polishing means. Actually, it happened in the past week. 

You know that in most kinds of writing the first line, first paragraph, first chapter is important. We talk about "attention grabbing" and "hooks," as though they are sacred concepts. They are, especially in story telling.

I worked on my first paragraph for "Oligarch" over the entire year that I wrote the book and yet it was not until I had to commit it to Kindle that I saw its flaws. Suddenly it had phrases using unnecessary prepositions, a "was burned" ("was" is weak), weak verbs ("smoldered," is better), a contorted sentence connected awkwardly by a conjunction. You get the idea.

How come I waited until the last minute to discover word polish?

I don't know. 

Writing fiction is such a cool journey.