Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Knowing When to Quit, Part One

(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / tomasfoto
I majored in art when I was in college, and I'll always remember one of my painting professors making a profound statement. "Every painter needs to have someone standing behind him to shoot him when he's done. Otherwise he'll overwork the painting and turn it into mud."

It's extremely difficult for artists to see their work objectively enough to know when it's finished. And once we finally realize we've overworked something it may be too late to salvage it. Fortunately, when it comes to writing, there are warning signs that we can look for. One would be redundancy. I'll use my Marina Martindale novel, The Deception, to illustrate my point.

I was near the end of the story. I'd resolved the main conflict, but as I tied up remaining the loose ends I suddenly discovered a huge opening for one of the antagonists to go after the protagonist a second time. This left me with two options. One was to write a sequel. Tempting thought as I loved my cast of characters. However, in this instance, the conflict would have been virtually the same as the conflict in the first book, making sequel redundant. In other words, it would have been a boring, "been there, done that," story. So, rather than waste my time, and my reader's time, with a bad sequel, I wrote a definitive ending and killed off the antagonist, ending the feud once and for all. 

Does your story feel like it's getting stale? If so, go back and look at your conflict. If it keeps repeating itself, or if the results of your character's choices are always the same, it may be that your story has become too redundant.

GM

No comments:

Post a Comment