Friday, August 06, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

by G.Parker

Have you ever gotten an email or a letter from someone and it made you angry or emotional in some way and you wanted to respond immediately?  I know I have.  And usually, it's not a good idea.  I had an email this past week, a couple of them in fact, that I decided to wait on.  I had another situation that I could have made worse by commenting, and decided to wait and see what happened.

You know what?  It was a good thing.  The email situation, I don't know - only time will tell.  But the in person situation went perfectly, and if I'd said anything, it would have escalated.  I'm so relieved!
I think the same can happen with writing.  You get going in the flow of a story and let the characters lead you in a different path than you meant to have happen.  Sometimes this is a good thing, but most of the time it's not.  There's a reason you have plotted the story a certain way.  If I haven't written a plot or outlined a story, then it's no big deal when things end up different than I'd figured.  But if I've outlined pretty much the whole book and it takes off in a different direction, it tends to mess up the ending.  I have to stand back and contemplate if that's really where I want it to go.  It usually isn't, and that's when you have to make the cuts.
No one likes to cut or edit their work.  It's hard and it can be painful, especially if it includes some of your favorite scenes.  But you have to look at the good of the story.  What will make it the best?  Will the scenes really help in the long run?  Would your readers even notice after you've changed the path back to what was intended?  
Patience helps in these cases, because there are times when our characters know where they're leading us, and it's good.  It's those other times that you have to weed things out and get back on the right course.  If we didn't take a day or two to evaluate, we'd be in a world of hurt.  There's nothing like getting to the end of the story and wondering how in the heck it ended that way - it wasn't how you meant it to go at all!  You don't want to go back and start at word one, but sometimes it ends up that way.  Nicole's blog of a week ago is case in point -- where she threw out a story she'd been working on and started over.  Twice.
See, that's a lot of patience.  And with her, I'd definitely say it was a virtue.
Till next week.


Jolene Perry said...

I've been trying to plow my way through a project that I've totally fallen in love with but was having difficulty in the middle of. I did NOT want to leave it but finally did and now I'm ready to dig back in. It's hard to let something go for a while but it generally helps us gain perspective. Thanks for the thought.

Rebecca said...

I'm finding a loose outline (more like major plot points at approximate word count places) is working for me because I'm left with a lot of room to run. This way I can go wherever the characters take me with the aim of reaching the next plot point, and the plot points can be easily changed if I need them to be.

I guess I'm a combo of an outliner and a pantser. What would you call that? An outpantser?