Ready, Fire, Aim: Getting it wrong

When I asked someone in a writing group what her story was about, she said she didn’t know. Said, “I simply start writing. Eventually, I find out the direction the story is taking.” Huh?

I think that’s wrong. What about you?

Do you know what your story’s about? Have you ever started a road trip, route planned, map ready, car fueled, only to find a detour along the way? What if we never make it to the destination? I’ve had some happy memories visiting unplanned places. But to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never started the car, heading down the road with absolutely no clue where I’m going. Okay, that one time might be blamed to too much . . .

I think writing’s like that. That first sentence is pointing to the last, the finale. My characters take detours, often ending up in unplanned places, but they always seem headed toward that last sentence.

If the story-line takes a detour and doesn’t get back to the map, it may require taking an editorial knife to it.

Skip the editing, and you’re sure to get it wrong

Informed that Beat leader Jack Kerouac never rewrote after putting words to paper, Truman Capote commented, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

Every time I’ve rushed or relied on grammar technology, I’ve learned to regret not taking the time for the sweaty part, editing, rewriting, editing and rewriting.

For those of using MS Word, it’s easy to get lazy, waiting for Word to catch the mistakes. After all, Word even checks for context now. For those of who use Grammarly, we think we’ve got mistakes covered, for sure. What can slip by both Word and Grammarly? Theirs always a catch, catch? And the POV police are waiting around the curve. I found out the hard way. I thought I’d perfected self-editing, used grammar software, and sent it off to a real editor. I had 424 double-spaced pages, with mistakes on every page. I even paid him to show them to me.

Can’t it be fun?

Writing is fun for me. Even staring at a blank page all day, if I can come up with a paragraph, it’s been worth it. Then I think of my favorite quote from that well-known writer, Anonymous. “The beginning is easy; what happens next is much harder.”

I have a Chapter Thirteer in one of my novels. The only way I could assuage my embarrassment was to use that page for book signings.

There’s a lot of hard work ahead if you’re just starting out on your writing journey. It can be fun, hard work, agonizing, obsession, and more. Don’t ever be satisfied with the first draft. That’s all I’m sayin’

With that out of the way, the next part will be more enjoyable.

See you then*

*Have you ever enjoyed Where’s Waldo? There are at least 7 intentional mistakes above. I don’t know about the unintentional ones.

I'm on tenterhooks, waiting to hear from you

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