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.
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.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
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.
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