Thursday, June 07, 2007

What You Already Knew

Several times in recent weeks, as I've been working on stories for contest submissions, I've had trusted reviewers offer a critique that mirrors something I had already thought, at some level, about the story in question.

Typically, what has happened is that I've thought a given section (a turn of phrase, a bit of character behavior) didn't quite fit/didn't quite work. But I kept it anyway because I had a fondness for the intention, rather than the execution.

I'm almost entirely convinced at this point that it's universally a mistake to hang on to something you know isn't working (typically hoping that no other reader will notice the weakness).

Oftentimes, the offending section isn't even central to the story, but is simply a stretch of prose we've come to love. In this case, particularly, give it the ax.

But what if the broken part is central to the story? In that case, I suggest re-writing in the simpliest way possible, a de-gimicification, if you will. Just give it a plain-Jane presentation to get the point across. Perhaps something better will come along later. But, if it doesn't, at least that part of the work won't stand out like a pustulent sore thumb.

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