Unfortunately, this is exactly what I needed to hear right now:

Do not spend a single second making your prose readable until you’re absolutely, positively sure that you have your story locked down. This is the single most important bit of advice I have, and I ignore it all the time and have wasted years of my revising life because of it. The impulse to snappy-up dialogue and make sentences eloquent is almost irresistible at every point in the revision process. It makes sense: We’re surrounded by so many big, messy plot and character problems that it’s nice to seek solace in tidying up sentences. It’s a finite task, it’s instantly gratifying, and it makes us feel like we’re making progress on our books. The sadness comes when we spend six months transforming our first three chapters into Pulitzer-worthy gems, only to realize that none of those chapters will actually end up in our novels because they don’t work with the ending. This happens over and over and over, and it will kind of make you want to die. My advice: Think of your second draft as a house that you’re building. You need to pour the foundation, frame the walls, and get a reasonably waterproof roof over your head before you start to think about putting art up on the walls and installing the basement bowling alley and aviary. Let the art-hanging and bird-bringing be the treat you give yourself for all your manual labors with the cement mixer and nail gun.

Siiiiigh. Excuse me while I go knock down this beautiful front hallway I’ve been working on and pour some damn foundation instead…

7 responses to “Does he have my number or what?”

  1. Holly Jahangiri Avatar