Transitions in writing

penFirst published at July 9, 2016

Something I’ve noticed in my own writing, I cling to phrases I’ve written in rough draft. Even as I flesh out a half-baked scene or idea, add dialog, or break a scene in two. I don’t want to change anything already written. Most times revisions screw with the flow of a plot thread.

“Walk softly, don’t disturb the sleeping mountain lion.” He was a newcomer to our wilderness.

“I’ve been here before. I know the dangers,” he replied.

Between those two sentences I added:

Mountain lions are tricky creatures, asleep when you think them awake, awake when they should be asleep. Sort of like my old mentor Samuel. I never knew when he’d pounce on one of my practice sessions and break my concentration so I’d have to start all over again. Oh how I missed the old man. He also taught me look deep within my visions for the Truth.

Um, I had to move all but the first sentence of that paragraph. It adds nothing to the tension between my two characters. It digresses. But the raw grief for Samuel’s death is there. It just needs to go elsewhere. With the adrenaline flowing while tracking someone, the constant ache of grief would abate. The memory goes elsewhere.

By the 3rd or 4th draft I can lose my attachment to every single word I’ve already written. Still, some out of place sentences persist. I have to move or change that line of dialog that shows a lot of characterization or adds a telling bit of research (an info dump usually gets lost) because it disrupts the entire flow of the scene. Just adding a few words to the next sentence can help. Not always.

You may have heard the phrase “Kill your little darlings!” Those darlings are beautiful, meaningful words and phrases. At best you might find a better place for them. At worst they need to be trashed.

Get used to it.


About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.


Transitions in writing — 2 Comments

  1. Just found another one.

    *Could G with his inter-agency cooperation credentials get in to view that police interview?*

    Um, I hadn’t introduced his inter-agency credentials yet. That happens two scenes later. Nuked that one sentence and proceeded.