Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Could My Face Be Redder?

I learned today that I've been calling Dr. Gene Getz by the wrong name. As a consequence, I confess my sin and make atonement through correcting all my posts.

This, however, provides a perfect opportunity to discuss mistakes again.

Mistakes will always appear in your stories. Hopefully, they will be the kind easily corrected, such as typos and incorrect grammar. Or calling a kind and humble man by the wrong name.

Sometimes mistakes are more difficult. Story dead ends. Glaring plot complications. Improbable circumstances. These are harder for the writer to spot and always harder to correct, but correct them you must.

Your readers are not idiots, unless you're writing one of those idiot's guides to whatever, and even then they aren't really idiots (well, maybe a few). They know when you take the easy way out, and it infuriates them.

Your story must be difficult. To be truly heroic, your hero must face and overcome real obstacles in believable ways. This creates hardship for you the writer to create those obstacles and give your hero his believable path of victory. The more difficult the path, the more heroic the hero. Be very careful as you write not to choose the easy way out. Do not turn from the difficult path or allow your hero to do so.

Last month I wrote something to the effect that mistakes can be useful for keeping the ego in check. One caveat: do not allow fear of mistakes to cripple you into trying never to make them. That's called self-editing. While it might be a useful skill for Republican Congressmen listening to a presidential speech to employ, it can kill the creative impulse that brings your creation to life.

Be fearless in your writing, especially in those first drafts. So what if the dialogue is cheesy? So what if the teacup switches hands, or the coat changes color in the same scene? That's why we edit later.

When you make a mistake, correct it. Don't let mistakes, or the fear of making them, control you.

I have no doubt I will revisit this subject at a later date. Sigh.

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