About a year ago I decided to start twittering tidbits from my Okal Rel Saga by working through the books a page a day. The results are at http://twitter.com/#!/okalrelsrv.
At first I found the exercise frustrating and wondered if it was worthwhile, but it became a ritual so I stuck with it. Each day I read a page, marking any corrections I’d like to make for the collector’s edition when the whole thing is complete, and picked out-of-context bits to share.
The surprise benefit only dawned on me today: I was learning to paraphrase for maximum impact.
Take a tweet from page 274 of The Courtesan Prince: “Being able to see felt incredibly important even though it made her vulnerable.”
The actual text in the novel is: “She obeyed his order, freeing her hood first which made it easier to look around. That seemed incredibly important even though it made her vulnerable.”
The paraphrase cuts out action needed to sustain the plot, but in a re-write I might have gone with it prefixed by: “She freed her hood first” because it eliminates a ‘which’ and a ‘that’.
But ideas for rewrite are just the side-benefit of the exercise. The real lesson was seeing how paraphrasing for maximum out-of-context impact revealed the “goodies” packed into each page. The conflicts. The surprises. The teases and emotions. The more clearly an author sees where the “goodies” are, the easier it is to be conscious of providing them to draw the reader on.
And the fun thing about twitter is there’s always the chance a kindred soul will glimpse you working as you go.
Yeah-but: Some goodies take work to set up and digest. The tastiest ones, IMHO. Those constitute a second layer of reader-rewards unattainable without a little more investment than a tweet allows. 🙂