Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Focusing On Detail Is Good, But Remember The Big Picture

I was talking with an author recently about the start of a book we were both reading. We came to the conclusion that the opening line and paragraph, although really witty and fun, was simply not the opening of a book. There was nothing that sucked us into the story. As I thought about this, I began to think about some of the problems I see frequently with submissions. The author has focused so much on the small details, that he or she simply forgot the big picture and the whole story.

As an author, you have to focus on all elements. Yes, those great lines and those fantastic scenes are crucial for providing a great voice for you or bringing in the right tone for the book. But, with that said, you have to remember that, in the end, the reader is looking at the entire story. The reader is not doing what you are doing. They are not dissecting the story on a chapter by chapter or a scene by scene level. They are looking at the big picture.

I always recommend that my author always look at how the entire story plays out for the reader. I was recently working with one of my authors on a story that we are in the initial planning stages for. The author wanted to add an element into the story to add some drama to a slow section of the story. Now, I have to admit that adding that element to the story would indeed add drama or conflict...BUT... the idea simply didn't fit with the theme and the idea of the entire story. So, that simply meant we dropped that idea.

When you are working on your stories, always ask yourself something I tell academic students to consider. Does this scene, this line, this plot device, etc. fit with the THESIS of the TOPIC of your story. If it only fits with the TOPIC, then it goes away. If it fits with the THESIS, then you are good to go.


1 comment:

  1. I learned a lot about this in an EditPalooza workshop I'm taking. I didn't pay much attention when I read books before, but since then, I've noticed the importance of theme. Though the theme isn't blatant (and it shouldn't beat you over the head), when details don't fit in, it's like a note playing flat.