Thursday, 26 January 2012

Leave That Sentence Alone, Write The Next One.

Sometimes I do write some utter, bloody rubbish. I don't really mean boring or stilted (though I do that as well), I mean over-poetical to the point of nonsense. Take the sentence I just wrote into my W.I.P.

"Steel corridors threw back glimmers of light bounced hither and here around corners from distant wall brackets, shifting pockets of light and dark in an adamantine labyrinth."

Now this is a first draft (actually, strictly speaking it's a second draft, but the scene being rewritten has changed so much in terms of location, characters present, etc that I've chucked the old version in the deleted scenes folder and started again) so it should be all right that it's not perfect or even good, but I'm sitting staring at that sentence wondering what the hell I was thinking, and my thought process goes something like this:

Forget the overall structure of the sentence, which is on the overwrought side all by itself, ignore the phrase 'hither and here' which given that 'hither' basically means 'towards here' is not only kind of nonsensical, but the sense it does make is redundant, no, look at your usage of 'adamantine'. Now 'adamantine' means either 'hard, unbreakable' or 'shiny like diamond' (or I suppose both) and while in context that could almost kind of make sense, you know perfectly well that really you're using it to mean 'made of steel' and that isn't what it means. No I know you know that the word comes from the Latin 'adamant' which quite probably referred to steel, but it still doesn't mean 'made of steel' in modern English. Also you are not allowed to justify this on the grounds that your setting is partly Ancient Grome in Space (you know apart from the French names, Irish and Indo-Arabic Mythology, Mesopotamian housing... and that's just this planet), find another bloody word you crazy bint. Also, also I don't care that it sounds kind of poetic, you can't go around changing the meaning of words willy nilly, you are not James fricking Joyce, nor are you Humpty Dumpty out of Through the Looking Glass. Stop it.

And at around this point I realise that I've spent about twenty minutes berating myself over the use (or rather misuse) of one word in what's supposed to be a first draft and I sigh and try to remember that the point of a first draft is to write a complete first draft, even if it isn't pretty (or, as in this case, it's too pretty). In short 'Leave that sentence alone, write the next one'. Now I've got that rant out of my system I shall go and do that.