People aren’t perfect. We don’t make perfect things. We can’t write perfect books. But that’s what many writers strive for their novels to be. Perfect. The thing is, if you keep trying to make it perfect, you’re never going to finish.
This isn’t to say that we should ignore the problems we see. We just can’t find all of the problems. This is something that I’m constantly finding myself getting caught up in. In my eyes, there are so many things in the story that need to be changed that it is overwhelming. I can’t change this plot hole without going into other chapters and taping everything together with nice, perfect lines. I can’t edit this character’s personality without changing what they choose to do in every scene. All of the problems are getting tangled together.
So I decided to find a way to do what I do best: organize.
I realize that lately I haven’t really been fixing problems as much as I have been looking for them. I’ll start editing and then only see other problems to fix. This is where the organizing part comes in. Instead of continuing with the impossible task of fixing problems I’m not even aware of yet, I’m just letting myself point out all of the problems.
I’m editing my story with Microsoft Word, but this can also work with a number of other programs. If your novel is on paper, then just go with the classic red pen. If you are on Word, there is a comments function, where you can highlight a part of the text and make a comment. Right now, I’m going through my entire story like it’s a search and find, looking and commenting every single thing I need to change.
It’s like a check list. Whenever there is a lot of ground to cover in front of you, making a check list makes it seem a little more achievable. It takes off the pressure of having to remember to go back to change this or take out that. The comments function on Word also makes it so comments can be marked as done. It’s like checking one problem off the list after I go and fix it.
So for now I’m finding as many problems as I possibly can. I’m tearing this story apart, lining up all of the tasks ahead of me. When I finish commenting on every possible problem, I’ll go comment by comment and fix them, marking them as done.
This way I won’t wonder if I missed something. When I’m done commenting, I know the whole story will look like a piece of trash, but at least I know that I have the ability to polish it up. You can probably guess what I’m going to do after I have nothing left on my check list.
That’s right. I’ll do it again. And again. Until I’m satisfied. But at the same time I need to be able to accept that my story will never be perfect. That’s okay. If it were perfect then it wouldn’t be good.
After I’m satisfied, I’ll open the door to trusted readers, let a select few of my friends and family make their own comments. And after that… the beta readers will go to town.
My challenge for you is to find all of the problems in your story. Make your own check list and then do everything you can to cross out all of those problems.
But remember to strive for greatness, not perfection. Perfection isn’t what people want to read. Flaws are what can make the story real.
Like this post if you liked it, and you can follow my website via email, WordPress, or any of the social media widgets on the side. If you are reading this on Goodreads, then you can follow me or add me as a friend!
Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!
(Sorry about not posting very much over the last week. I was sick, but I’m still going to try and find a way to make it up to all of you… We’ll have to see.)