Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fine Art?

Pointillism:  the theory or practice in art of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they blend together.

Isn't this what we do as writers? Individual letters become words which become sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, and novels.

Yet, if we're too close, we can't see anything but the one color block, the one giant dot in front of our nose, which is why it's good to:

  • let a manuscript rest before hitting it with edits. Getting some space and time away from your own work helps you come at it with a fresh eye.
  • get an objective opinion from an editor or critique partner who can point out what you are too close to see.

When you get the proper distance from your work, you can stand back and see the overall picture. The thousands of words, hundreds of paragraphs, dozens of scenes and chapters can all coalesce into a beautiful picture.


  1. I love this visual. And you're so right. We must step back from our work to see the big picture, and often, we need fresh eyes, like from a critique partner or freelance editor.

  2. I agree 100%. My system is I write the story, submit chapters to my critique group. When they come back, I make the revisions I agree with and then don't look at the manuscript for at least a month and begin editing again. Sometimes I've gotten so busy on another project I don't come back to a story for six months. Then I can really see what needs fixed.

  3. Oh this was so cool! I've allowed my latest one to breathe for a few weeks and I'm getting to that point where I'm starting to miss it. Going to dive into edits soon.
    ~ Wendy

  4. From one form of art to another, it's the perfect analogy. I paint in oils and I remember one instructor who urged me to step back from my work more often and view it at a distance. "Paintings are meant to be viewed, not smelled," she would say. Writing is so much like that. We manipulate words endlessly, trying for just the right sound, but at some point we have to step back to see how each word has become a part of the whole.