I’ve written short stories, but have not finished the one I’ve been craving to explore. Time and again some ‘thing’ always stops me from getting very far. Usually, it’s been my indecisiveness. I often ask myself:
“What if I make this character more troubled than I was originally thinking?”
“What if this new species I invented suddenly has this unique trait?”
Or I write a scene and can’t decide if it’s any good so I stop working on it. I’ve only taken two writing courses, by my first writing course taught me some important tricks. If you feel passionate about an idea, whether it’s for a few hours or days, it is worth documenting. That’s not the trick though!
The Trick is in the Editing
When you look back on that one poem about that rabbit you saw you may or may not fall in love with it all over again, but you’ll have a better sense of what part is a good idea and what does not work.
When you come back to a work after some time has lapsed it is a lot like getting a second opinion. You’re not in the same space you were in a month ago, and you’re new look might uncover something worthwhile. Edit the piece until you are satisfied then take a break from it for a couple of days and edit it again. Or take it apart and use some of it in another work.
The bottom line is you must go back to your previous writing and give yourself the opportunity to make something great! Things don’t come out that way. This way you won’t be giving up on yourself.
The Trick is in the Writing
It’s difficult to know whether something works as an idea in your story until you test it out. Jotting down point form notes or ides for scenes is a part of creating a larger narrative but it should not be where you stop on working on your idea!
Actually expanding all those point form notes in narrative form will reveal much more than you bargained for, but at least you will have the opportunity to explore ideas on a level you never have. Again, this may be an overwhelming task but it is worth all the headaches because this kind of practice helps a writer move past basic worries like “is my idea going to work” to novel writing worries like “where am I going to go from here.”
Always take action, because practice is important!
The Trick is in the Guide
Ask a couple of people who are capable and well-read—or even another writer—to consider you’re writing in the most general sense: are there any places you can improve on your voice, tense, grammar, plot, or characterization, and etc…
Having others read your work will save you from some major mistakes like giving up on a piece that could have been great if you just got another pair of eyes to read it over.
But remember, you can’t take their point of view as you’re judge, jury and executioner.
The Trick is in the Confidence
Having someone read your work and taking their advice as constructive criticism and not personally (yes an artist’s work is always personal, but I mean don’t be personally offended) takes courage and a lot of confidence.
I have to work on this trick on a regular basis: watching my professor read the short story he assigned had me wishing I could pry my papers from his hands and run away to edit my story for the 20th time! Going through this process I, at some point, realized the difference between constructive and personal. Also, if I don’t let anyone see my work then I’m blatantly disregarding the future audience I want reading my work.
Being confident and seeking criticism is a great attitude to have. There is no way I can know everything there is to know about how I should tell my story, which is why it is better to ask for help!
These are just some simple tactics, but sometimes it is the simplest tactics that are the most useful!
Were these helpful to you?
Is there anything you would add?