Recently, I “finished” a revision of my WIP (is one ever really finished with a revision?), and the following analogy popped into my head.
We’ll call it the “Sound Mixer And Revision/Transformation,” or S.M.A.R.T., analogy. (By the way, did you know they eliminated the analogy portion of the SAT? I say bring it back, society is too easy on kids today. How are they going to succeed in life if they don’t know how a thistle is related to a frying pan?)
This past summer, I took my son to a Peter Frampton/Yes concert (I fought off the urge to don flared jeans and volumize my hair). We sat a few rows behind the sound guy, who was working two enormous soundboards—each with dozens of sliders and dials and switches. He fiddled with them all, a virtuoso of the knobs, until the optimum sound reached the ears of everyone in the venue.
That’s how I envision the revision process.
Imagine a giant soundboard in front of you, the writer. Instead of it being labeled with different mics and speakers and pick-ups, it’s got the names of all your characters and scene settings (if it becomes obvious I don’t know what I’m talking about with regard to sound dynamics—or the writing process, for that matter—just work with me here, folks. It’s only an analogy!).
You’ve completed a draft of the manuscript, but it’s rough around the edges (and by “rough,” I mean putrid). You need to go in and adjust some of the “volume” levels. A little more Character A and her derring-do. A little less Character B and his annoying drawl. Less description in scene 9 (Exactly how many sentences does it take to say the meadow is lovely?) Ease up on the dialog in scene 32. More tension in scenes 4, 5, and 22. Crank those dials!
It’s your opus—do what you need to. Keep fiddling until you’ve created your masterpiece.
Then sit back and listen for the feedback. That’s what the sound engineers do.
How do you envision the revision process?