Monday, February 6, 2012

The Big Mistake

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I spent many years backstage as a part of different theatre companies. I've been backstage as an actor, a stage manager and even as a director. You learn many things from being backstage. You learn that everything is not what it looks. You learn to avoid certain people when they're doing their odd pre-show rituals. You become accustomed to hearing (shall I say) colorful metaphors. You learn very quickly that hearing "uh-oh" is the worst thing to hear. It means disaster. Someone dropping something heavy on their foot earns a colorful metaphor. Someone dropping dead earns an uh-oh.

I have learned over recent years that writing comes with its own set of disasters. There are the typos. The blatant mis-spellings. The overuse of the same words. Poor sentence construction. The list continues. All of these are mild errors in my opinion and easily fixed; much like rushing back to the dressing room because you realized that you forgot to put on your shoes. (trust me, it happens)

Then there are the bigger mistakes; the undefined character or (even worse) the lazily defined character. Messy dialogue. Too much description or way too little. These mistakes will take longer to fix but are still within the realm of repair.

But what about the dreaded uh-ohs? I had it happen to me a few years ago and it was not a pretty sight. Here followeth my confession. I realized that my solution to the mystery made no sense at all. None. I had been so enraptured with all my other lovely characters and all my lovely red herrings that the result was I had given scant attention to the guilty party or his actions because I knew he was the one. Uh-oh. I felt as if I (once again) was the winner of the "Dumber Than a Stick" award. This uh-oh took weeks to fix as major re-writing was in order as many, many choruses of "How Stupid Are You Really?" ran through my head.

It did get fixed.

How do you handle your writing disasters? With careful thought? With humor? With liquor?

12 comments:

  1. This is not how to do it, but right now I abandon them and start work on something new :-)

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    1. Sarah; HA! I'm sure you'll fix them later.

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  2. Elspeth - Oh, such a comfort to know I'm not the only one who has writing disasters. I was beginning to think it was just I that did those things. When it's happened to me, I just delete the mess - quickly - before I have so much connection to the manuscript that I lose the nerve to fix what's gone horribly wrong. I can be ruthless that way.

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    1. Margot; I'm *so* relieved to discover I'm not the only one! I try to go back and find where I went wrong and start again from there - but sometimes, it's just not possible!

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  3. Wine is my friend. Then I roll up my sleeves and go to work.

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    1. Carol; It's always a good idea to fortify oneself before heading into battle.

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  4. I'm usually horrified, then jump immediately in to try and fix them. :)

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    1. Elizabeth; It *is* horrifying, isn't it? I'm never sure what I'm more appalled at - that I didn't realize I was making the big mistake, or that it took me so long to notice it!

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  5. Yes, I've done that. For a couple of weeks I even tried to convince myself the plot was fine in my suspense novel. I finally did a complete overhaul and even changed the nature of the crime. Such is life.

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    1. You know you're in trouble when you can't even convince yourself. Good for you, Pat.

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  6. Lots of chocolate and lots of running can cure anything. At least that's what I tell myself!

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    1. I should think lots of chocolate would demand lots of running - unless one wants to perfect one's Jabba the Hut look. How does one run in an Alaskan winter? Treadmills, I would guess.

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