So, you’ve finally received the critique of your work. They like it, but have ideas. You agree with most of the criticism, fixes, and suggestions, maybe even all of them. Or, maybe you don’t agree with anything. Either way, using this advice, you must now take your concept in your hands, find a way to mould it into something that was better than its previous form, and then perfect it.
A suitable replacement. How does one go about finding this? If you are a sculptor fashioning a piece of clay from your own imagination, how do you create the perfect piece from something that has been deemed good, but not great? If you are a writer, how do you take a concept from your piece of writing and change it, make it better, but have it still fit the context of the story and allow you to keep the parts you are most fond of – or more importantly, the parts that make the story what it is?
I recently watched the movie Limitless in the theatre, with Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. It was, in my opinion, better than I thought it would be. Before I saw it, I thought, how can they make a movie about a drug that makes your entire brain turn on when no one actually knows what those parts of the brain do? Or if they do, the information is not likely in the hands of a Hollywood writer, but rather those of the scientists/doctors who made the discovery. How can, if we only use so much of our brain, we have the slightest idea of how someone would behave or think while their entire mind is working?
Anyways, I didn’t think about those questions when I was watching it, which I guess is a sign of a good movie – if it can distract me that much from my preconceptions. But it did get me thinking. Minor spoiler*** In the movie, the main character, a writer with a contract for a book that has not even been written, is having a VERY hard time starting his book. Take the magic pill and voila, he’s got 90 perfect pages written in one night.***
I think it would be wonderful to have so many ideas just flow into my consciousness and into my fingers, because right now, I am struggling with not writer’s block, per se, but editor’s block, if there was ever such a thing.
I received my critique on Exposing Dallas. Overall the person offering this advice liked it, liked the characters, the action, etc. But there were a few things I could take out, things that didn’t advance the story. Fine by me. There were also a few things I could probably describe better to make them clearer to the reader, rearrange here and there, etc. But there are a few things that might demean a character or events that I have to now change. I think the specific criticism was “I just didn’t take that character as seriously as before, he wasn’t nearly as scary.”
Most writers experience this: the chain reaction effect (or I guess you could call it the butterfly effect, if you want to get dramatic about it – I doubt if I change this character’s behaviour in one chapter, a dancing monkey will set the Canadian countryside on fire). Generally everything in a book happens as a result of a past action, or one character’s actions affect another’s, and that is how a book comes to life. B happens because of A, C happens because of B, and so on and so forth. I am now struggling with the “Well, if I change this, then that doesn’t make any sense,” or “Why would he do this if that is no longer relavent?”
And it could greatly impact the story. I am sure that with the advice I was given, I could make something better of the book by changing what was suggested, but HOW to change it right now is just beyond me. I’ve only had less than a week to really digest everything, of course. But I wonder how long, if ever, it will take me to decide on a suitable replacement.
I wish I had some advice on how to experience an epiphany that I could either offer or use for myself. Usually when someone suggests I change something, the idea is not far off. I can surprise myself by simply starting to type, then suddenly a lightbulb will flicker on in my head.
If I change this thing, while it is not necessarily a BIG thing, it still manages to affect quite a few chapters here and there, and the actions of characters. Which means I would have to find a way to make it so that their actions are still apt to the situation.
So, I guess this was one long ramble. I would be interested to know how you guys have dealt with this before? Did you just let it sit, stew in the pot that is your skull, or did you attack it from all sides with a pen or a keyboard? Did you ask others for suggestions? Or did you go to a random word generator in hopes that a magical verb would pop up and give you the solution? Comment, fellow humans, don’t be shy!