During the process of migrating from Blogger to WordPress I lost a few early posts. For some unknown reason they didn’t transfer and since nobody ever read them it seemed a shame they got abandoned down in Google’s basement. I’ve resurrected them here just for you. Sweet!
Fresh from the compost heap:
The process of editing and writing sometimes feels bulimic. Write. Purge. Write. Purge. Etc. I recently read a book that was enjoyable but it felt just enough underdone that I wished it was cooked a bit longer. Everyone has a preference right? Do you like your fiction rare, medium, or well done? Raw is unevenly heated, chewy and unappealing but overdone is hard and dry, unpalatable.
Run with me here – the analogy sorta works.
Figuring out the answer is difficult. Hard labor is required to grasp the subtleties. I easily understand how authors think they’re ready to dish up and put it on the table when it’s not quite sautéed to taste.
How do you tell when you’re done? There’s no oven timer that dings and makes you realize, “ah, my story is cooked!”
Do you have a barometer for evaluating when your writing is good enough that someone might actually like to read it? If so, hand over the ideas. I’m sick of the merry-go-round of suggestions that all conflict with one another…and these are recommendations coming from people who are supposed to be savvy in the industry. I have no idea who to believe or what has real merit.
Getting caught up in a story so much that I have to turn the page and discover what happens next is a good sign, but I still read plenty of mediocre books because I like something. Forgettable plots spontaneously re-spawn like video game heroes. Strong characters, unique settings, great atmosphere – all of these can carry me past poor writing and shaky structure and flawed plots. The tricky part seems to be finding and fixing the pitfalls in your entre before the dinner guests arrive.
Occasionally I pick up a story I haven’t worked on recently and read, forgetting that I wrote it and am entertained. I know. Completely self-gratuitous and egocentric. But if I enjoy the result perhaps someone else might too. Of course there’s always that little question of – maybe I just love my characters so unreasonably that they totally suck and I just don’t care and believe they’re awesome even in the harsh light of are-you-a-complete-idiot sideways eye-roll from polite beta-readers.
I’m speaking hypothetically of course. *whistling*
Then there’s the joy-kill camp on the other side of the river that suggests if you laugh at your own humor, enjoy your own characters, are intrigued by your own plots – then you aren’t capable of seeing past your own myopic POV. These are the folks who drop by just to confirm your writing sucks and everyone hates you. The ambassador of that especially encouraging crowd has been visiting me lately. Cue the melancholy music.
So brilliant peeps, what’s the secret? Fill me in because I’m obviously not getting it – or I’m associating with the wrong crowd. What temperature is your oven dialed to? Do you drag out the BBQ, get the grill heated up, or start a bonfire in preparation for cooking a plot? When do you know it’s done?