Mind the Gap

When your characters dance into your mind, full and alive and layered and laughing, and your fingers type away at the keyboard, and the words appear on the page, how do you know? How do you know if you are painting what your mind is seeing, recording what it’s hearing, or if the sights and sounds are staying put inside you as ideas only. You’re pretty sure you’re getting some of it, you hope you’re getting close, but because your mind is so full of your imagination, how can you be positive?

Of course, this is something you look at during revision, when you come back to the words you’ve written and take a close look at what they actually say. For me, though, it’s also something I trust my critique group to help me with. I know that, if the gap is there–the gap between what I know and what I’ve written–they’ll see it. They’ll point it out, and they’ll help me to fill it in as I revise. This “safety net” that they give me is one of the biggest reasons that I can write freely, why I can (usually!) tell my inner editor to go away.

What about you? How do you separate yourself from the story you imagine as you write and recognize the one that comes off the page at you when you go back and read it? How do you identify the gap?


  1. This is a great post, Becky. And so true. I have a really hard time seeing the gaps because, like you said, the characters and story are so alive in my mind. I can think that I’m transcribing everything exactly the way I see, feel, smell, hear it, but until someone else reads it and give me feedback, I can’t be 100% sure. I almost always need someone else to point out the gaps for me, ’cause when I read it back to myself, my imagination kicks in and I often unknowingly fill in the gaps for myself.


    • beckylevine says:

      That’s it, Claudia. I think we know the story so well, in our heads, we can’t always see what’s actually missing. Musing on this as I wait for my group to read the first scenes of a new draft–of which the writing is feeling great. BUT… 🙂


  2. Lori says:

    Yes, Becky that gap can be so…wide sometimes! And the only way to see through it can be other readers and TIME. That’s when the revision magic happens, right? Thanks for articulating what we all feel so often.


  3. Reading out loud often helps me fill in those gaps, but, like you, it’s those 2nd (or third or fourth) sets of eyes that are my safety net.


    • beckylevine says:

      I always forget about reading out loud. I’m one of those people (I think there are others!) who doesn’t take in content well through my ears (Yes, my husband has a field day with this!). But I think I need to push myself to do this…eventually. 🙂


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