I am staring at this line: “I wanted to ask Momma again…”
It doesn’t matter what the character wanted to ask. What matters in this revision is the “again.”
First I wonder, “Did the character ask it before?” I go back through the manuscript.
No, she didn’t.
So I ask myself, “Should I write a scene where she asks it the first time?”
I answer, “No, that seems redundant.”
“Well,” I say, getting sort of chummy with myself about the process. “I could cut ‘again.’ That would solve it.”
“But,” I say. “Maybe my inner writer wrote it for a reason. Maybe that ‘again’ means something.”
“Okay,” I agree. “It means she’s frustrated. She’s feeling pushy. She wants something to happen so she’s nudging her mother again about it.”
“So is the frustration there?” I ask.
I go back through the manuscript. Again. I look at all the places where the frustration builds and where it doesn’t. I get to the line: “I wanted to ask Momma again…”
“Again” seems a pale way to express frustration. I cut it and move on.
This is revision. This is the dialogue going on in my head. At times, it is hilarious. At others, maddening. It is a puzzle, trying to piece together all the bits of inspiration to make sense so that when it is done, the whole of it lands in someone else’s heart and touches them in quite illogical places.
So that when it is done, they want to read it again. And again.