Monday, May 2, 2011

A certain sameness

Every city I visited in England is situated on a river, and I managed to walk beside all of them at least once. Of course, picturesque riverbanks just invited photographs, so I came away with quite a collection.

When I looked at my pictures after I got home, I noticed a certain similarity to them.



Do you see it? Every single picture features a willow tree. True, there were willow trees along all the rivers, but couldn't I choose something else to frame the photo?

I notice the same thing when I'm revising. During my last project, I actually wrote, "Find someplace other than the library!!!" across the top of a chapter in block letters, because every other important scene happened there.

In the Netherfield portion of HIS GOOD OPINION, my setting of choice was a garden walk. Any time Darcy needed to think--something he did far too much of--he took a walk through the gardens. By the time I reached the last scene, I knew as I wrote it that it would need to be moved. (Another garden scene?) shows up right in the MS.

Now, for all you members of Over-Thinkers Anonymous, this is not something to worry about during your rough draft. You notice that even though I caught it, I still went ahead and wrote the scene.

However, when you hit the revision stage, things probably need to be reworked. In my writing, if multiple scenes are set in the same place, it's often a clue that I've written the same scene more than once. That was the case with HIS GOOD OPINION. Like I said, there were way too many scenes where Darcy wandered off to think. Is he a thoughtful man? Yes. Does any man think that much about love and relationships? No. Therefore, I cut the love bit out of the first scene and then combined the second two into one.

The other possible reason is (sorry to say) laziness. This was my excuse in my earlier project. I didn't want to think about the setting any longer, so I didn't create other places in that world. I'm not one of these writers who can build whole cities out of nothing. My best work is with characters. Painting the backdrop for them to live on is tedious work to me, and sometimes that shows.

I'm working on both of these flaws. When I get to Pemberley, I will spend some time just thinking about the estate and the house itself. How many floors, how many rooms, what would the rooms be used for? If I have a clear idea going into that section, I'll have a much easier time moving things around and describing them.

What about you? Do you find yourselves leaning on a setting the way writers sometimes do a certain word or phrase?