March 4, 2010

Beginning, End, Middle

A good point to remember for future writing...I've done this several times and it works magically...figure out a potent quote for the beginning and end of a chapter and the rest will take care of itself. It's not just about establishing a natural point in time for the chapter to inhabit, it's about setting a tone, an emotional arc.

A beginning quote or scene-setting description or finisher should leave the reader with a distinct emotion that is also colored by either the end of the preceding chapter or the beginning of the next chapter.

That makes the decision of what to use for the end of the final chapter doubly important.

I think in a good biography, the foreword works on the reader as much as the beginning of the first chapter.

March 3, 2010

Movin', Shakin'

Slicing and dicing chapters down to 20/30 page size. It's relatively easy. Equally important in this stage is correctly sorting block quotes and big pieces of interviews. Lots of things are out of order right now.

I'm doing a chapter each day from beginning to last. It changes things up nicely. When I get to the end, I'll have forgotten the first chapter. That's the point.

March 1, 2010

The Placeholder

A couple comments early on...

I'm really enjoying listening to the soundtrack to the movie Patton and the movie First Knight as I write. Jerry Goldsmith is a genius.

It's dawned on me that the "placeholder" truly is a staple of first draft writing. I've heard it mentioned on DVD commentary for episodes of The Office and writing for the TV screen is no different from fiction or biography in this sense.

A placeholder is nothing more than a quick phrase inserted into the mix to remind the writer of the sort of writing that should appear there. It's better than nothing because it serves as a memento for the half-formed idea. In The Office, it might mark the sort of joke that should go there. In biography, it's usually a subject area and chronological marker. One hopes that one will find a good quote to fill it out and turn placeholder into poetry.

Final Writing Phase: Day One

I'm viewing this last phase of writing with trepidation, mostly because I've gotten so used to transcription I worry I've forgotten how to write. I haven't written anything of creative significance in probably four months.

I suspect that I've amplified my abilities in cutting needless fat from the page. Most of the last transcriptions were tiny in terms of what made it to the document from the recording. I felt like I had heard it all.

I think it could take a week to really kick into high gear.

February 28, 2010

Grayton State Park

A pleasant, uncommon reference in the Florida press to Governor Chiles' conservation record...