One of my (many) weekly chores, at least during the summer, is mowing, raking and trimming my lawn. I like to get started early in the AM before the day gets too hot and (because my family likes to sleep in) it frees up the rest of the day for family (see quality) time.
I finish all my work, put away the mower, gas trimmer and tools and stand back to admire my handiwork. Invariably, I notice some blemish to my work (damn, where did that thistle come from? what the hell? fairy rings? Crap!) So I trudge back to my shed and pull out a trimming shears and garbage bags and trim the errant pieces of grass that the mower or gas trimmer missed and I pull up the mushrooms that sprout up after every rain.
OK… so I’ve painted a pretty mundane picture of my life and previously mentioned anal-behavior (see previous postings). But so what? What the hell does that have to do with writing? Have you lost your freaking mind?
To answer the last question first, you cannot lose something you never had to start with, but I digress. The picture I have described to you (I think) is a perfect analogy to writing.
You get out your writing tools (pen, notepad, laptop) and you create characters, plot and eventually write your story. With a sense of accomplishment, you step back and admire your handiwork. If you’re completely honest with yourself, you recognize (I know I do) that there are some blemishes on your story.
Maybe certain information was revealed too soon or some of the sub-plots were neglected too much. How about mundane ideas like time and place?
You have no choice but to trudge back to your tool shed and begin the often arduous task of editing your story to “clean up” the blemishes. Just like you might make mental notes about what to fix on your lawn, you need to make a list for your story.
That list will ensure that you don’t reread it down the line and say “Oh crap, I forgot…”. It also gives you something to consider for your next story.
Now, where did I put those hedge trimmers?