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?