Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday's Words: Step Back

Some times we are so close to our work we can't see its flaws.

This is exactly what has happened to me with one of my novels I'm currently working on. I wrote it a few years ago, but recently went through it with, what I thought was, a set of editorial eyes. Then I sent it off to Tristi Pinkston for a final edit before I self-publish it. She told me that the plot lacked focus. As I read through it again, I realized that she was absolutely correct. The ironic thing about this, is that as a guest on her blog last week, I wrote about this very thing. I criticized the movie Super 8 for being all over the place with its story line--I didn't know what the movie was really about. And then I went on to talk about the importance of a story question: what does the protagonist want more than anything else?

So I have taken Tristi's advice, and my own advice, and reworked my manuscript, clarifying the novel's story question. (By the way, I am so glad I have submitted my novel Hattie's Promise to a professional editor before self-publishing it. Watch for its release this spring).

There is much to be learned from this embarrassing little faux pas. It only goes to prove how important it is to step back from our writing and look at it with a totally different set of eyes. And the best way to do this is to have someone else be that set of eyes. We are too close to our own stories. We know what our characters want and feel, but sometimes we are so busy jotting down the details that we forget to include these essential elements. An outside reader, however, starts out knowing nothing about our characters and the plot, and thus can more easily see the gaping holes that we may miss.

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