Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trash Your Story: It's the best you can do

After yesterday's post, I started thinking about the authors who become wedded to their stories. They start that project and regardless of what people say, they are determined to make it work. Initial feedback from their critique partners show there are major problems with it. So the author gets to work to fix those problems. During the next round, there are even more major problems. The story is just not going anywhere.

And yet the author keeps trying and working.

The situation is something a lot of authors have faced and, unfortunately, in many of these situations, the best approach is to trash the story and let it die. There is just only so long that you can keep it on life support and maybe the best choice is to pull the plug on it. 

As I said, I started thinking about this after yesterday's post. Even after the less than favorable critical responses to Fifty Shades, the author now is putting out the same story "but from his point of view." What James is doing is exactly what a lot of others try with their projects. "Let me try the story from another angle." Oh sure, I know that James' is just offering "another" point of view and that is fine. Faulkner did it. Many authors in the past of have done it. But here is the problem.

One of the biggest problems with that first story was the actual storyline. It wasn't the approach she took necessarily. It was the premise and actual story. It was probably going to struggle from the beginning. 

I talk about this a lot when I lecture on topic selection in academic settings. If you pick a topic that is inherently flawed, there is nothing you can do to fix it. Regardless of how much time, money and
energy you throw at the project, it will fail. The analogy I often use is cooking. If I have a rotten piece of meat, there is nothing I can do to save it. We know historically, people tried to save spoiled food with spices but even then, it didn't help.

The same goes for your writing. If the story is flawed from the beginning, there will not be much to save your story and it is sometimes best to put it out of its misery and move on.

I know this is hard, but think of it this way. How much time are you spending on that project. That is time that could honestly be spent on a project that might succeed and do better. 

I am working with a client right now where we are starting from the ground up. We had some projects that just didn't work out as planned, so we build from scratch. Thinking a bit more about the premise from the beginning is certainly going to be much more beneficial in the long run, instead of "reworking" that last project.

No comments:

Post a Comment