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The Devil is in the Details

by Linda Jenkinson

crystal ball in a tree fork
credit: Image by LonnieHoneycutt from Pixabay

A story whirls around your head, but when you begin writing, you hate it.

Keep going. If this is the first time you have put your story to paper (or screen), you are in the middle of the infamous first draft. Get it all out! Ignore how horrible it is. Then go back and re-read what you have written. Examine the part you hate the most and decide what’s wrong with it. What more do you see?

Analyze your characters. Do you know who they are? What would make them more lifelike to someone who doesn’t know them?

Detail the settings of your story so readers can see exactly what you see.

Go through your story and find each spot that needs work, although it may be every sentence, and make them better. Find areas to delete and areas to strengthen.

Most of all, don’t look at writing as a job. It’s a craft.

An artist paints a tree: trunk, branches, twigs, individual leaves. He paints blossoms and then birds sitting on the branches, a squirrel building his nest in the tree’s fork. He must start with the base, the trunk of the tree and like the tree, he allows his picture to grow and take shape. The artist can’t start the picture with the squirrel or the birds. When he’s done, he may decide that the squirrel isn’t part of his story and conceal it with another branch, more leaves or blossoms.

Unlike the artist, a writer may easily remove what doesn’t work and add what’s missing. Like the artist, our goal is to tell our story so that anyone that looks at it can understand it.