Saturday, January 3, 2009

Find the Easy Solution

I know I have said there are no quick solutions in publishing, but when it comes to writing, there are, in fact, many times when the quickest solution in editing will be the best. What I am referring to here would be those times when you are still writing your story, or might be in the first round of edits and find a huge roadblock. this is one of those times when you say, "How in the $^$^%$^&%%#%%^ no I get out of this?"

What happens most of the time is the author will make a change and then spend the next HUGE block of time dealing with all of the trickle down problems that happened because of that change. You fix one thing and then the next piece of the puzzle falls apart. In the end, you have nearly re-written the story (which in some cases is the best solution) or you end up with the same problem just in another portion of the story.

The easier solution is to stop and think. I know, thinking at a moment of crisis is nearly impossible but it is crucial. Think about the problem you have in the story and then look across the big picture of the story and find the actual underlying problem. In other words, what you may be looking at is only a symptom of something else in the story.

Let me explain. I was editing someone's partial and it was taking forever to get through the darn thing. Every page had huge problems in terms of the structure, plot, characterization and so forth. What I later found was that every time I would make a change, about a page or two later, it sounded like I was contradicting myself on the comments. By page 10 or so, the story was going in too many different directions.

I couldn't continue so I stopped.

After taking a look at it, I realized that the entire problem didn't stem from the small points in the story, it was the entire premise of the story. In no way would this situation have occurred and the characters in the story were fighting against something that was unreasonable to ask of them.

The solution? Tweak the premise of the story. Make the premise something that would actually be believable through some shifts in what the characters did, and voila!, all of the issues in the story that had once been a problem became an asset to the story.

I did the same thing yesterday when I was working with one of my client's manuscripts. (I should note this was the idea behind yesterday's post). She felt her story was going no where and she would have to start inserting scenes. She was already 1/2-3/4 of the say to her word count and was concerned about going over. The solution was the changing of narration to dialogue. Suddenly we had action and movement. Easy fix.

So instead of fighting the story, really examine and find the single small tweak it would take to fix the problem. You might find this is easier than you think.

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