Micro Commenting

It’s been a crazy weekend (for good reasons), and I’m stealing a moment between One Thing and The Other to write briefly.

I’ve been having problems getting the character relationships right in the chapter of my pirate fantasy novel I’m editing, and in general the amount of edits needed in this manuscript has felt intimidating. I find myself rereading scenes, knowing I need to add more of a character or hit a plot point but feeling frozen about where and how exactly to add it. I can get hung up on the specific words too, worrying about whether the prose is just right.

For the last couple of scenes, to deal with that frozen feeling of where to begin, I’ve just started by reading the scene and placing lots of localized comments: “Could mention more of Character X here.” “Does this line ring true given the edits to last chapter?” “Show more of X emotion here.” Instead of worrying about whether the writing is “good,” simply reading and responding helps me to focus on what needs to be done where, and it builds a little momentum and makes the editing feel more manageable and directed.

I’ve only tried this approach of peppering a two or three page scene with a bunch of comments a few times now, so who knows if it will be a helpful strategy later on in the manuscript. But even if it’s just a technique that got me through a couple of scenes where I felt overwhelmed by the work, I’m still glad I stumbled across it.

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