Rewriting

Dawn Orbit Injection

Dawn Orbit Injection (Photo credit: FlyingSinger)

The other night I rewrote the opening scene of my work in progress, Mission: Dawn. It wasn’t a major rewrite, mostly tightening things up.

I originally wrote the opening scene years a decade ago. I had always envisioned it starting with a line of dialogue, a conversation between two characters, that pulls the reader in and slowly reveals the mission they are about to begin. I wanted the characters to open the scene rather than the narrator. I wanted to convey a sense that the reader is coming in during the middle of a conversation between the two characters who have known each other for a long time. I wanted to convey that there is history between them without delving into back story.

I think I accomplished that with my first crack at it. Still, it was a long time ago that I’d written it. Before I became a Toastmaster, before I’d re-interpreted several other scenes I’d written as a speech. Before I learned that reading a scene out loud, preparing to present it in front of an audience, is a great way to identify what passages don’t work well.

With a few oral interpretations under my belt, I now had a new with which to approach the writing process. I began thinking about the early scenes I had written for Mission: Dawn and wondered how well they would stack up if they were to be interpreted for a public reading. I came back to the opening scene and decided I didn’t like it as much now as I used to. My main critique was that the dialogue was too subtle, that maybe the scene needed me to connect some of the dots for the reader.

I also thought some of the dialogue was trying too hard to sound natural. In real life dialogue we use a lot of superfluous words, a lot of pleasantries, that in written form or public speaking form are wasted words. Snip, snip, snip, used the digital scissors and cut a lot of them out.

In the end I got a second draft in which I still accomplished what I originally wanted to do with the scene, only I think it’s more tightly written now.

I’d like to present the scene for one of my speeches but it doesn’t suit any of the projects in the advanced manuals I’m working on now. Maybe I’ll use it to work towards another Competent Communicator (CC).

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