Notes to Self Re: Next Novel

1. In a late draft, do NOT move chapters around without getting a second, and possibly even a third, opinion. Rewrite if necessary. Add more information earlier, or take out information that should come later. But do not cut and paste, thinking only minor sutures will be necessary, because you are wrong.

2. Do not revise "out of character." For instance, if the protagonist doesn't talk about his or her feelings, describing this character's inner life only glorifies the writer's emotional intelligence. Like any other writerly narcissism, this glorification happens at the expense of both the story and the reader. I find that when I do this, I can't bear to read my own writing because I'm insulting my own intelligence, and that's when I feel really stuck and unable to move forward.

It's much better to let the character's inner life come through gesture and speech (and through observation and reflection if those things are true to character as well).

It's partly a matter of "show, don't tell," but also partly a matter of humility, of listening more than talking. There's a difference between truly and usefully giving voice to something, and the annoying, patronizing practice of "speaking for" another person or group.