Other Writers, Other Methods:
Last week I mentioned Robert McKee's writing method, specifically, his practice of pitching the synopsis to friends and colleagues before he starts writing.
I've never seen anything like this before.
Check out this article on Raymond Chandler's writing process. This was a man who took my metaphor of first draft as 'rough sketch' to its farthest extreme: he read his first draft, picked the bits he liked and, get this, jettisoned the rest!
Mark Coggins even shows us sample paragraphs. Chandler underlined his most resonant phrases (or even single words). Those stayed in later drafts. All the rest of the language was subject to change. All. Of. It.
I've always approached my second drafts with an eye toward honing down the language, eliminating excess words, excess scenes, excess actions, trimming fat in every possible way. Chandler's method seems to turn the story from a draft into a sort of outline-slash-haiku/tone poem (draft 1.5?). From these bones he built the novel back up.
It's radical stuff. The very idea gave me a happy little shiver.
I've got a novel marinating right now (first draft written at full throttle, second as carefully honed as the finest razor's edge) that might be a good candidate for this method. Or, I'll end up tearing out a few dreds before deciding it's not for me!
For every artist, a method...