Too often we really focus only on the mechanics of story. Writers and student-writers are told to make perfect sentences, understand the use of the semi-colon, and to spell words correctly.
“Do not turn in a manuscript to an agent or editor unless it’s perfect,” is a pretty big industry standard.
- Be perfect.
- Write perfectly.
- Have perfect grammar.
- Have a perfect plot.
- Spell everything perfectly.
Here’s the thing: Your story won’t ever be perfect especially if you’re working on it all by yourself. Do the best that you can. Spell all the words. But do not fret about it forever.
So much of our writing life is spent making sure the mechanics of our stories are perfect, that we sometimes forget about the psychological aspects of our stories, the heart.
It happens to us from the very beginning in grade school. Our teachers focus on the paragraphs, the spelling, the grammar because they’re trying to teach us to effectively communicate with the written word, but they sometimes forget to talk about our imagination, our cleverness, how our stories show our deeper selves and feelings.
How many of us worked super hard on a fourth-grade story that we thought was the most amazing story ever only to receive it with a note like, “Good job with your paragraphs!” Or, “Well done with your spelling!”
Our random thoughts this week both focus on imperfection. Shaun says in the first one, “I’m not exciting today.”
And the second one? Ho boy. Carrie feels super vulnerable about the second one, because it shows her totally tipsy because of her social anxiety and Shaun mixing WAY TOO STRONG a drink.
The point though, is that much like our podcast, our thoughts aren’t canned or perfect. We are real people, not polished, but pretty awesome anyways.
Don’t forget about the heart of your story, the resonance. Forget about the mechanics for a bit. What is this story actually about? What is its heart?
People like to call it a theme, but that sounds too much like grade school to us. The heart of the story is the big, essential inside part of the story’s hero. Her catalyst. Her life’s question and realization. To find it, ask what your character’s heart wants and needs. To find it, think about the lie about the world (or herself) that your character believes. That’s how you find the heart.
Dogs don’t care about mechanics of things. They care about the heart of things. Be a dog.
Writing and Other News
I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here.
People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.
The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?
It’s awesome and quirky and fun.
FLYING AND ENHANCED
Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.
OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!
I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.
I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!
Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?
Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.
Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here.