dispatches from the desk #1

Though rewriting scenes sounds like a good idea, you get diminishing returns. The scene calcifies in your mind, and it's harder to change some of the details while leaving others unchanged. Picture driving a cart over a dirt path in the rain and then you come back a couple days later thinking you're going to try a new path, but the ruts have hardened.

Full disclosure, I've never driven a cart over a dirt road before or after the rain. But I think the example stands.

Trying not to follow this observation to its logical conclusion-- that this makes first attempts all the more important. Too much pressure on the pen.

This begs the question: does a scene fail because the writer didn't bring his/her/their A-game on a particular day? I don't think so. When a scene is missing that what French call a certain how do you say, I can usually trace it back to some failure of mechanics. I've misidentified the real central conflict, maybe, leaving it buried in a gesture, an aside. Always ok for characters not to mean what they say; never ok for the writer. Or else maybe I'm Tristram Shandying, taking the long way around, and leaving the central conflict on the back burner.

Is there a way to fix this problem on day one? Avoid the rewrite by taking a full inventory of everything before writing and thereby circumvent mechanical failure? Probably, but unfortunately I don't think this would work for me. I learn too much about the story while I'm writing it. So, look for me out on the dirt road with my fucking cart.