Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Keaton, Gene Hackman, Iron Man, Thor, Julia Armfield.
Such a great email! Wish I was in Tucson to see you & Ander Monson chat. This hit home to me because it’s clear-as-day true: “I believe it is very hard to picture the faces of imaginary people but that the movements of imaginary people are easier to see, if we’re given the right prompts.”
I love Night Moves. Hackman is just the best.
I have friends who will be at AWP, I think, promoting EcoTheo Collective and LOGOS Collective.
I agree that for the most part, Lish's edit tightens things up considerably - particularly some of the dialogue. Replacing Herb with Mel, just as replacing Carl with Ed makes sense. Lish is aware that people read with their mouths and Mel is a name more, well, mellifluous, and Ed has the expected hard edge. But there are numerous edits that to me seem more gratuitous, more like Lish wanted to insert his personal style at Carver's expense. As an example, there's a passage in the original that reads, "The leaves of the aspen tree that leaned past the window flickered in the breeze". Lish edits this to, "the leaves of the aspen that leaned past the window ticked against the glass". Deleting 'tree' is perfectly acceptable. 'Tree' is redundant. But the environment that Carver sets is more visual than auditory. It's more about the light. Leaves flickering rather than ticking. But then there are other times where Lish substitutes a word (replacing 'accident' out on the interstate with 'thing' is a good example) and makes the dialogue more rhythmic and gives the reader a bit more insight into Mel's state of mind and recall ability: (It was May or June becomes It was May or maybe it was June). And as for pacing, I would have cut the part where Nick relates how he and Laura met and stetted the part where Terri describes the new restaurant. But that's just me and I'm going to quit now because any more of this would require an essay and I'm not about to do that.
This is really a phenomenal treatment of dialogue. Great revision exercise. Thank you so much
Thank you Matt! This and a few other of your posts have reenergized me. I also got 'Refuse to Be Done' this morning and am on the second pass. Great Book!
Here's a third exercise: Take a dialogue-dominated scene and rewrite ninety to ninety-five percent of the dialogue as narrative, weaving it with the action. Use the five to ten percent that remains to punctuate the narrative.