Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The story exists, as it exists.

Sometimes I write a book and I get it right.

Sometimes I write a book, I get it wrong, but I can fix it.

Sometimes I write a book, I get it wrong, and I can't fix it.

First of all, let me say, I'm very open to critique and to changing my story. I accept about 95% of editorial suggestions, especially all the smaller stuff.

But sometimes the suggested change is so fundamental to the nature of the story that it can't be done without changing the story so much it falls apart.

That doesn't mean the suggested change is wrong, only that I can't do it. Every time I've had one of these core changes, the whole thing has fallen apart. It has become a quagmire of changes, confusing, unworkable. It's take one piece out of the base of the puzzle and having it all come toppling down.

Here's where I might have some fundamental disagreement with other writers, especially those who view writing as a mechanistic process, who believe there are formulas.

Not to get all mystic on you, but I think of it this way. The story I write comes from some sort of extra dimension where it already exists.

Now there is a certain Schrodinger Cat aspect to these stories, and thus the details can be changed, some of the sequences can be changed, characters can change their looks and attitude, the background might shift and so so on. I can add or subtract elements.

But the fundamentals that come to me are usually locked in. That there is a certain built in story that can't be changed.

And sometimes other people find that story to be boring, or confusing, or just not working.

Here's the thing. They may be right, but I can't do anything about it. I have learned that if you have several independent readers come to the exact same conclusion, they are probably right.

A good example is the first chapter of my "100 Kickass Pages." Nobody liked it. One reader said it was so bad, he didn't want to tell me.  That bad.

But...it is the beginning of the story, no getting away from it. The characters introduced, the circumstances -- are the whole basis for the book.

I added a few things, tried to make the two protagonists motivations more believable, and so on, but fundamentally, the chapter didn't work.

But I thought it did.

So I did what I could, wrote the other 95 pages, and sent it off.

If it is a dealbreaker, I'm NOT going to try to fix it. I'll move on. I've learned that trying to fix one of these fundamental "Truths," if you will, negates the whole story. I'm better off just accepting the truth that this isn't a story that people like (not that it isn't the real story, just that people don't like it.)

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