Friday, October 15, 2010

Don’t Pull That Thread!

Sometimes, when I’m trying to impart some wisdom to my children (“aw Dad, not again”), I emphasize the importance of making good choices. Do your homework instead of play video games. Eat vegetables instead of donuts. Use a pair of scissors instead of a chain saw.

Making good choices applies to writing fiction, too.

As a writer, you’re the one in charge. You make the decisions—about the words, about the scenes, about the characters. Each novel is the product of the choices you make.

  • Should your protagonist confront the villain alone, or wait for back up?
  • Should the sidekick be a funny one, or an incompetent one, or maybe an animal?
  • Should the heroine really go down into the basement armed only with a flashlight containing weak batteries?

All along the way, you must make choices, and there are infinite possibilities. Just remember that the decisions you make will dictate future events. Of course, the challenge is making the choices that will lead to your desired outcome.

I’m in the revision stage of my current WIP. As I go through and change some of my original choices, I’m amazed by how many little threads need to be altered accordingly. Talk about a ripple effect!

At least in fiction, you can go back and fix some of your stupid choices. Too bad there isn’t a DELETE key in real life.


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7 comments:

Mary said...

The delete key was the subject of a tv show (sci-fi). I still think in would be handy -- you know for mass murders and such of course. *insert evil laugh here*

Margot Kinberg said...

Alan - You are so right about making choices. And it's interesting how one little thread can change everything...or actually end up being the fuse to a stick of dynamite (like in Mission Impossible) ;-). It's funny, because right now I'm doing the same kind of revision thing to my WIP and little things do change a lot.

Terry Odell said...

I think that's why I feel compelled to edit as I go--because I KNOW I'll miss threads if I wait until I get to the end before revising.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, man--I am right there with you! Every little change has repercussions running in every direction, and the BIG ONES are worse! Good luck with your process!

Patricia Stoltey said...

True, so true. I'll be doing one more revision on a manuscript while I'm at a writers' retreat this weekend, and I'm scared to death I'll find something horrible that will unravel the whole novel. :)

Alan Orloff said...

Mary - I belive the P.C. term is serial killers :)

Margot - I like your dynamite analogy. Ka-boom!

Terry - But what if you get to the and and decide you need to change the beginning? Or does that only happen to me?

Hart - We had repercussions once. Called the exterminator and they were gone in a couple days. Of coure, we needed traps for the BIG repercussions.

Alan Orloff said...

Hart - Of course I meant of course.

Patricia - At least if it unravels, you'll have a bunch of other writers nearby to help you ravel it back up.