Here was my tweet this morning…
Isn’t it a great feeling when you write a sentence or paragraph that comes together in perfection.
I am not sure if other writers take extra time to craft and write real meaningful paragraphs. I do. It is an interesting process. Some paragraphs are easy to write and I just continue writing the story as it unfolds to me. But then there are certain paragraphs that the Muse stops me in my tracks and I have slow things way down and really take the time to craft a great paragraph. It typically is a descriptive paragraph so far.
Here is what I am talking about from the first book – The Boy with a Magical Pen:
As it turned out, Olan was as much of a talker as Ingvill—perhaps even more. They both had the bad habit of interrupting others when they tried to speak; visitors were rare, so they fought for air time when someone did visit. They weren’t rude for rudeness’ sake, it’s just they didn’t have any self-awareness. Or perhaps they had too much self-awareness and not enough awareness of others. Certainly they had no awareness of how messy they’d let their cabin become.
They were timemakers and mapkeepers, experts in the mechanics of clocks and, of course, family history. The problem was, they had no family of their own to keep track of per se, and the map they kept really kept itself, and the clocks they made worked less than half the time. More often than not, the ones they did make they managed to break.
Tinkering with clocks was a pastime for them but it took Nathaniel a little while to realize that their meaning of “pastime” was trying to figure out how to make time run backwards. They’d gone through thousands of drawings, reams of paper, and tons of watches and clocks trying to figure that out; and as much as they tried, they failed dismally. They never managed to go backwards in time, but they did manage to make a small, unique conversion.
This was one of those paragraphs (three actually) that I had to keep going back to many times. I wanted to be able to describe them once through narrative and then let the rest of their description be shown through action and dialogue. Too much description and the story becomes bogged down, not enough description then there is no sense of place or person. I think it definitely is a dance with words and the way they flow without the incessant use of adverbs and past tense ‘to be’ verbs. As you can see I did not use one adverb in description, but I did use seven past tense ‘to be’ verbs which is actually a little much, but I think in these paragraphs it works.
As the chapter goes on I do not need to add the adverbs that so many writers do in their dialogue because with these three paragraphs I already described what they are all about, how their cabin is kept, their relationship with one another and what their vocation is and how they are always preoccupied with clocks and time.
So if it takes three to four weeks to craft a few paragraphs to perfection then the rest of the text will have a nice flow thereafter because of the amount that you achieve in the first few descriptive paragraphs. That shows the readers that you as an author weren’t lazy in your writing but that you took the necessary time to craft something worthwhile reading.