The Big Picture
It’s cliché but it fits. It’s a forest shrouded in mist when you set out to discover the story hidden in the fog. A year later you find your forehead buried in your palms as you hack at vines of story line tangled up in your imagination. “How’s the book going?” they ask. You dread telling them the truth, that you can’t see the forest for the trees and then you cringe at the overused phrase the masters warn you about. But, then, months later, you crawl out in the daylight and look back. You’ve produced a manuscript. You followed the outline, the North Star. It’s still full of worries and wonders. But, it’s there in all its glorious embarrassing contradictions and silly dialog. You want to lock it up and never show a soul.
I read somewhere in one of my many books about writing that I should wait a month before revising. I don’t have that much time. I have a real job. Two weeks later I had walked around the forest and found the trail into the manuscript I had taken before. I was worried the frist plot point was coming too late, that the reader would get frustrated. I knew it had to come quicker. I scanned for a groove, a thread, a snag, anything to bring it closer. I found it! When I did it shifted the whole story into better balance, which felt like catching my breath.
I’ve still got a long way to go, but, because I had made it through the forest already I had the power of perspective, the big picture. I could not obtain that until I had traveled the distance. I improved the story because I knew the ending. In my limited experience and study of the art of story telling, I cannot stress this enough. Finish! Get to the end. Even if you are exhausted and your writing suffers. This is a fundamental truth in creating a story worth sharing and the biggest dragon I had to slay. Stephen R. Covey‘s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says habit two is begin with the end in mind. Have a goal in life as well as in the book you’re writing. Find the bullseye and aim and pull the trigger.