Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You Gotta Get Out Of The Way of The Story

So, I've been banging my head on a brick wall with one story. Parts of it is fabulous. Parts of does everything a story is supposed to do. Other parts make me want to select all, hit delete and save the current changes.

Then NaNo happened and that story sucked me in. And that little 'you suck' voice got drowned out by thousands of shiny new words. The problem was when I went back to the MS That Makes My Brain Hurt it still sucked. Yes it had more fabulous parts to it, but the sucky bits took over the ms and left me wondering once if I had it in me to write a good book.

I made the decision to open up a completely different ms and edit that one. It's been sitting on my computer since September. 2 months is more than enough time to come back to an ms with a fresh perspective and for the story to read as if someone else wrote it.

I stayed up all night reading it. The story by no means is perfect, but when I finished I knew exactly what needed to be fixed and HOW to fix it, which is half the battle. I knew it'd take me maybe three days to fix the major parts. Another day to make all the sentences shine and I'd be ready to shoot it off to a CP or Beta.

But more than that I sat back and wondered why this story was so much easier to fix. The first answer is that I haven't spent a month reading it over and over and over again just to keep hitting a new snag. One major reason is that the goal/motivation/conflict is on point. I can't say it was the prep work before the novel. I did A LOT prep work with the other book.

The defining factor is that with the story that's easier to fix I got out of the way and let my characters show their story through dialogue, action, and narration. It's easy to say I'm just here to dictate and to actually dictate what's happening. My, characters, and I'm sure yours do too, become their own people after a while. But the moment I stepped in and wrote what I thought should happen, what I thought they should say, the whole thing turned into a cluster*****. So every time I read a scene that just doesn't jive I see myself imitating the characters and doing a horrible rendition of them. Much like someone doing an impersonation of Elvis and gets it all wrong, you cringe a little don't you? Now imagine hours of it.

Oy, vey.

So as a public service, I'll tell you to just step out of the way. You can save hours of your time. You can keep your sanity. You can prevent the brain bleed from banging your head on the wall day after day after day. The upshot is getting a story that rings true through the character.

1 comment:

  1. Very good advice heres hoping I'll remember to follow it the next time I sit down to write.
    Warmest regards,