Stripped Bare


The word "stripped" has a different meaning to the novelist than most people, with both positive and negative connotations. Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, the pressure to produce, and produce on a deadline, strips bare the author's self-defenses. Daily writing, in particular, and concentrated immersion into the story world, tears away normal inhibition and allows the writer to find deeper story, meatier characterization, and enhanced creativity. The comfortable safety zone of writing "when the muse calls" and one's schedule permits can't come close to duplicating this result.

On the eve of the book's release, the writer becomes acutely aware of his/her nakedness in print. My fourteenth release will be out this coming Tuesday, and I've been almost as nervous as I was for my first. Because like the primitive who believes that something of his soul is captured in a photo, the author knows a fragment of the inner self lies exposed and trembling within the covers of each book. Though a lot of us may pretend with don't care about reviews or sales or reader feedback, the truth is we often care too much to look (or to admit it)!

Sadly, not all copies of even the greatest masterpiece sell. In the world of the hardcover author, this means returns. But where I live, in mass-market land, the unsold paperbacks are stripped, their innards pulped, and their covers mailed back to the publisher for credit.

And that's the saddest kind of stripped there is.

But for today, I'm not worrying about any of these meanings. Today, I'm stripping excess verbiage, unnecessary scenes, and pointless descriptive passages to create a cleaner, tighter piece of fiction. It always amazed me how much clutter makes its way into a story. And how much better I feel about my naked work.

Comments

Suzan Harden said…
Hmmm... 'Stripped' is usually the term used for my first draft. I have action. I have dialogue. Now I have to dress it up with emotions, inner thoughts, and description.

Here's to no 'stripped' copies of Triple Exposure!
Amen to that toast! Thanks for the thought.

I think a lot of people write a scene and then go back to flesh it out. I sometimes do exactly that but still end up going through and pruning later. Often because I'm over my word count.

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