Saturday, November 3, 2007

On Revision & Smashing Clay

On, I came across this gem by poet Donald Hall (in a 1994 interview by Martin Lammon, titled "Flying Revision's Flag"):

"Rodin advised young sculptors, when something was not going well, not merely to keep picking at it -- the clay, the plaster -- but to 'drop it on the floor and see what it looks like then.'"

This is great advice for writers. Don't fall in love too much with the shape of initial drafts. Keep looking for ways to shake it up. Consider changing something so drastically that it alters the elemental shape of the work. You might surprise yourself into seeing your own material in an entirely new way.

Stand a story on its head. Have a character do the opposite of what you expect. Move the setting to another location. Change perspective from one character's point of view to another's. And see what happens next.

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