Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Which Writing Fairy Do You Listen To?

I've had a story swirling in the recesses of my mind for several weeks. One that I think would work for a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book that accepts submissions until the last day of August. Last night, I opened a blank page in Word and began to write the story. 

I wrote for well over an hour. The story seemed to be coming together nicely. I was aiming for 1200 words, and by the time I was ready to call it quits for the day, I had over 700 words but still a lot to be told. I didn't take time to read over what I'd written, knew there would be time to do that in the morning.

I got ready for bed, feeling satisfied that more than half the first draft was complete. I settled down in bed to watch the news but while the news anchor and weatherman jabbered on about the day's events, something began to gnaw at me. My story!

I knew that the story wasn't right but what, I wondered, was wrong with it. I mentally replayed what I'd written and the answer came. The first two paragraphs were fine, but the rest of it went into background that threatened to take over the original story. It would overshadow the original premise. Maybe I'd find a solution the next day.

Then the Bad Writing Fairy whispered that it would be a shame to lose all those words that I'd so painstakingly written. Leave it the way it is and keep going. The Good Writing Fairy rapped her over the head with her Writers Wand. but smiled sweetly at me. Dump all except the first two paragraphs and keep going. I knew which one I should heed. I pushed both fairies off my pillow and decided to sleep on their advice.

It's a new day, and there is no doubt in my mind that I have to begin the story again. The first thing I'll do is delete more than 500 words, no matter how much it hurts. There is no reason to sabotage my own story with words that don't belong. 

A good many stories that are published look nothing like the first draft. It's a practice round to help a writer know what direction to go. We begin and often begin again.  Writing isn't easy. Well, maybe the Bad Writing Fairy might tell you it's a piece of cake, but the Good Writing Fairy is going to remind you that it's hard work but well worth the effort. Which one will you listen to?

1 comment:

  1. You nailed it. I have always called them my good angel and bad angel. Do you remember the cartoon days where the cartoon character would look to one shoulder and the white angel would give him/her good advice, while on the other shoulder would be the black/red devil telling them to do what was wrong but fun/exciting? That's how my writing goes. ;-)

    Great post.