WHEN IT ALL COMES TOGETHER
There’s no better feeling than finally getting it right. You’ve written a chapter or scene, gone over it a thousand times, thought it was good, but haven’t presented it to others yet. Once you do, uh oh… Houston, we have a problem!
Your beautiful piece of prose isn’t quite what you imagined. That slam bang scene is full of holes you never saw because you’re too close to it, too embedded within the words to see past your nose.
Your friends come to your rescue… sort of. Whether you like it or not, they enlighten you with the ugly truth. Your character can’t possibly do this or that in that amount of time. The gun the bad guy is using can’t do that because it’s a so-and-so and that model doesn’t have that. During that time frame, the building didn’t exist. Which character is talking to whom?
“I wrote that? No, it can’t be! That’s not what I meant to say at all. That’s not what was in my head.”
Aloud you say, “Aha, thanks for pointing that out.” Being the mature writer you are, you’re anxious to take in all the different points of view. Some of their ideas might be way off base, but many of them are dead on. You, my friend, are temporarily blinded and need a guide to steer you out of the fog.
Back to the laboratory amid the beakers, test tubes, scales you go to re-conjure your creation. A week later, you return, ready to amaze your writers group (yeah, that’s what I’ve been alluding to) with your revised masterpiece. Torture them with the edited result of all their advice (well some of them anyway).
Try two goes better than the last time. Your audience likes it better yet there are still problems. Somehow you still have a problem with too much dialogue going on during a certain scene because there isn’t enough time for it to take place. Then there is the noise level and a cell phone incident that couldn’t work the way you wrote it, even in the second draft. Dreams shattered, it’s back to the drawing board again. Better, but no cigar.
Should you just tweak it and let it go or dig in and rethink everything and make it truly work the way it should? Back to the laboratory (pronounced, la-bore-a-torry). Finally, after going over it again, you figure out what’s really wrong, do a bit more research, get some helpful advice from an expert and fix those nagging little bugs that’ve plagued this scene from the beginning, those little problems that have kept things from truly kicking butt.
In an unprecedented effort, you read it for a third time to the group. The words, though altered a bit are familiar and flow easier than the last two times. They’re trimmed, rearranged a bit, and sequenced more logically. The group picks up on it and you can feel the approval.
When you’re done, the vibe is completely different than the last two readings. This is when you’ve finally nailed it. This is when it finally comes together.
Though you don’t take every bit of advice from every person, you at least listen to what they have to say. Some of them were dead on. If they were an editor, even more so!
I just went through that process with a chapter from my icky bug novel, The Factory. I had a chapter I wasn’t happy with and neither were they. I listened and I learned. No ego, no I am right and they are wrong. I listened, I considered, and I took into account much of what my friends said. Their advice helped a lot. After reading that third run-through, I could tell I had something magical and a scene much better than what I started with. I didn’t alter the story one bit. I only changed the way I presented it.
Writing it all down is only the start of any story. Finishing it, as in editing, is where the real work begins and it’s a collaborative effort. If you cannot work with others to do this, you’ll never get anywhere. Word will soon get around that you’re difficult or impossible to work with and your name will be crap. Don’t let that happen to you!