Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A question worth asking

Kerouac wrote the novel fast because the "road is fast". He'd delete unwanted phrases by crossing them out with a pencil or typing over them.

These days, the computer is the writing implement of choice. It allows us to delete, shift sections around and continually edit, in the way that Kerouac, writing on his lengthy scrolls, could not.

The typewriter/computer/notebook are, of course, just the instruments of the trade, but it's possible they have more influence on the eventual product than we think. Paul Auster, for example, writes by hand in notebooks, revising each paragraph until he feels it works – and I think his polished, elegant prose reflects this.
It would be different, that's for sure. There's a quality to handwritten stories that's unique. But whatever the mechanism you choose, you have to make your story work, and moving the words around until they do is what matters.

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