Again, Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these—thought and character—are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again all success or failure depends. Hence, the Plot is the imitation of the action: for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents.
The plot and the theme are at war. The plot is designed to force the theme to emerge. That’s why for me, knowing what the story is about is critical. It helps you edit. It helps you make decisions. It is the map.
The plot points themselves don’t really matter — it’s what those events mean to the characters that gives the story it’s weight.
Rewriting has unique challenges. I still struggle to tame the process. When I’m in the middle of a Zero Draft (as Scott Meyers calls it), I usually have enough natural excitement to propel me to the end.
However, I noticed when I’m rewriting, that initial energy is hard to re-capture. For me, rewriting feels far more mechanical than a Zero draft, which is filled with the magical wonder of discovery.
When my latest rewrite felt stale, I printed the script, wielded my trusty red pen, and paced around my apartment, acting each part, complete with accents and sound effects. I “stepped into the scene,” and boom. Excitement re-captured.
It sounds weird, but it reminds you that what you’re writing is intended to be performed by real, live actual humans in conflict with one another. So while that sounds obvious, writers usually work in solitude, so it is easily forgotten.
Stepping inside the scene is also great way to check your work. You can definitely feel when you’ve interrupted the flow of the scene by shoe-horning some bit of business in there that was left over from another draft because you were too lazy to rewrite the scene from the ground up. Writing like this awakens all of my senses and leads to better work. If I’m trapped in front of a computer for too long, I can easily become numb to a story. I will definitely step into my scenes more often.
So, if you see me pacing around your local coffee shop, with gnarly burrito breath, talking to myself in a bunch of weird voices, do not fear — I’m just writing.