Friday, May 16, 2014

Take Those Blinders Off When Writing

The art of writing can be extremely difficult. This is a solitary activity between you and the characters you are creating on that page. You see words appear before you on the computer screen and, as you write, you become immersed in the world you have created. The more you write, the deeper into that world you become. Eventually, you are right there with those characters, walking in the room with them, sharing their inner most secrets and so forth. However, as you do this you have become too close to them. The situations you have created for them to "discover" that are hidden to them, become hidden to you too.

As a writer, it is so crucial to, every now and then, step back and examine your work from the outside. You have to look at it from a completely new perspective and see things without those blinders you put on. While you were writing, those blinders were great. They kept you focused and aimed at that single target you were shooting for in the story. Unfortunately, those blinders may have also created some problems and issues you didn't see.

One of the benefits of having and editor and an agent is for that person to look at your story from a fresh perspective. They can look at your story, not so much from a creative, storytelling sense, but from a marketing sense. They can see why you wrote the story one way, but because they have their foot in the other side of the business, that side that sells the stories, they can often identify things you didn't see that would make the story sell better.

I just received today a rejection letter from an editor who noted some things about a story we submitted. I have to say, the comments were spot on! It was a perspective that just slipped under the radar when we were working on the story. For the writer and myself, we were so focused on one side of the story that we didn't push that other side the editor had noted. Fortunately, that editor is interested enough in the project to look at revisions.

Of course, in some of the cases, when we take the blinders off, we have to make some tough choices. Do we listen to those suggestions and make the changes, or do we put our blinders back on and say, "No way. I like my story the way it is and I am sticking to it." I do think, unfortunately, that many writers take this second approach. They get comments back from an editor or an agent after a submission, or potentially from a contest they entered, and shrug off those comments claiming the person "just doesn't get it."

This reaction, however, can be a huge problem, because, after receiving several comments back, especially those from editors and agents who said the same thing, you are now staring at a closed door to those places. You can't go back, after those comments have been beaten into your head and say to those editors, "You know, you were right." They will simply say yes and move on to a new author.

I personally recommend taking the time to consider those changes. Heck, I would even make those changes and save the story as Version 2.0. You might be surprised at what you find.

Oh, and I know that those of you still on the search for that elusive editor or agent are saying, "Yes Scott, we get it! This is why we need an editor or agent!" You can still do this within your own critique groups. Listen to what they have to say as well. Even though you disagree, they might be on the right track!

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