Getting It Right...IWSG Post

2:28 AM Elizabeth Seckman 51 Comments

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Is it August already?! Time for the back to school where my baby, my first born son, goes off to college? And just days away from my birthday where I grow another year older?

Eeek! Say it ain't so!

But on the bright side...it's IWSG day and I'll pretend ALL the support around the web is directed at me personally.

Thanks guys, I needed the pick-me-up!

Now...I'll try to return the favor!

My very best writer buddy, a non-blogger writing/editing genius (Hi Celeste!!) is my topic for today. (I can talk smack on her because she rarely browses the web!)

Here's the thing. Celeste will write a passage in a book and send it to me to beta. It will be nearly flawless...grammar, style, voice...it will all be good. I'll send it back with a thumb's up.

A few days later, she will send it back again. Totally rewritten. Again it will be nearly perfect. I'll green light it and send it back.

Then she will send it to me again. Scrubbed till it's polished and shined and more like a reflection of an encyclopedia than a novel.

Then I will send her a note. I liked it better the old way. This is too perfect. Text books are perfect. And no one fills a Kindle with textbooks.

Please toss me an ain't or a sentence fragment...something...PLEASE!!!

But here's the deal in a nutshell...Celeste suffers from insecurity. She is a natural writer and when she just tells the story...it's awesome!! But when she second guesses every line, every paragraph...then like a an OCD with a bucket of bleach...she ends up with stories that seem stilted and and bookish...but bookish in a bad way.

So here's my advice to her and to every writer who suffers from over polish syndrome.

Just tell the story!!

Imagine your story is like your house. If you make it spotless, clear it of the refrigerator art and tacky treasures, you may end up with a house as pretty as a JC Penny picture, but it will lack the warmth, the individuality that invites people in and suggests they kick up their feet and stay awhile.

Relax. Have fun. And remember, leaving finger prints is a good thing.







51 comments:

  1. Excellent advice! I occasionally suffer from over-polishing, but I am learning to shake the habit!

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    1. I think you have pretty good balance Kyra. :)

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  2. This is awesome advice to me! Our house is always messy and I have always considered that it means we are interesting people. I think there is always a time to polish (when the parents come and visit) but most of the time we need to find our own voice without worrying about how it sounds. Consider this blog followed. Cheers!

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    1. Why thank you for the follow! And I too have a very personalized, less than tidy abode. Life is short...got to have priorities!

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  3. Great advice. My current project is re-editing previously small-press published stories for a new collection. Some of the stories I've just tidied, one has had a complete re-write - even after being published in its original form for almost 17 years, I decided it wasn't good enough. I could edit forever, stopping is hard.

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    1. I know what you mean. When I got the first copy of PAST DUE from the publisher, I started reading and found things I thought needed changed. I had to just put it down and walk away. I doubt I ever read back over it...it will just cause me stress!

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  4. Nice to feature another author and give such sage advice. Writing can become way too complicated a journey if you focus on polishing a story more than on the actual story.

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    1. I agree. The plot is the foundation...and a house, no matter how sparkly, can stand on a crumbling foundation.

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  5. Great post! At some point, you just have to let the story go and accept there is nothing more you could do with it.

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    1. That really is the only way. If not, you'll never write anything new!

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  6. Great post. It's hard to know when enough is enough and not get caught up in endless editing loops. Thank goodness for honest, talented critters who set us straight! :)

    IWSG #179 (At least for today.)

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    1. I'd be insane without my critters! I'll be over later. I like to check out blogs before calling it a night. It's a nice way to unwind. :)

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  7. Great post. I think you're right. If you over-polish, you lose the voice and thus the connection to the reader!

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    1. And it really is hard to strike the balance...especially when you're still unpubbed and you keep getting rejects in your inbox. You don't know exactly what is prompting the no so you want to change everything!

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  8. Love this! Though I think I suffer from under polish syndrome, lol. :)

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  9. I love the phrase "polish syndrome." I also LOVE this lime: "like a an OCD with a bucket of bleach." Fabulous! Good luck this month with everything else going on. ;)

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    1. Thanks. I might need to add wine to my whine. ;)

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  10. Thank you for this post! I have a tendency to take criticism like that and change things completely (beyond the changes recommended). I think I've changed the first chapter of my current novel at least seven times - completely rewritten. I had to go back and bring it back to life with older writing. Fingerpainting can be beautiful!

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    1. Funny story...when my book was being edited for publication, the editor wasn't a fan of my opening page...I dusted off the very first page I ever drafted and submitted it...he approved that one! I guess the other ten drafts I did were just good practice.

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  11. A book is never finished, there's always something you could do better. The trick is know when to stop improving and let others be the judge of how good it is and take what you could do better into the next novel.

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    1. Totally agree. If I read a manny 100 times, I'd change something in it 100 times!

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  12. This is such great advice! Thanks for this. It's good to hear. (Um, read.) :)

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  13. I snorted out loud when you said books should be like your home. I'm looking around my house and it's got half folded piles of laundry on the coffee table, toys on the carpet, yesterday's dishes on the side table, and stacks of research papers littering every surface (every. surface. including the piano. When have I ever sat down to play the piano and thought "Hmmm, I should really review Krot et al. 2006 before getting down to some Beethoven." NEVER! but there are papers amongst my sheets of music).

    I think, I can at least be pleased that while I don't suffer from Over Polished-ness, my novels are in better shape than my house. That makes me feel better, so thank you.

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    1. My house sounds incredibly like yours...only I don't own a piano. This whole writing thing? It's a job and to do it right, something's got to give.

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  14. What a great post! So true! We can 'polish' things too much sometimes, until they lose all life. (Or if you are me, fiddle with things so much they lose all continuity. Humph.)

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    1. It can be really hard to find the right balance. We want it to be the best it can be, but want it to sound natural too. It's tough!

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  15. Ps going to follow you and your wise words now.

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  16. And this is why I love you, lol! I really enjoyed reading this, and I couldn't agree more. I think I'll throw some of my undies on the floor and avoid the urge to pick them up while I tap out a few paragraphs on my WIP. Love you, lady! Keep up the good work! :)

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    1. Love right back at ya lady! And yes, go work!!! Ignore the mess on the floor and just write away!

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  17. Fantastic post! We can polish until our babies shine, but sometimes we over do it and take the finish off.

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    1. I have a friend who has OCD and she once polished the degree numbers off her brand new stove. Yes, we must all know when to stop!

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  18. I agree. I've polished the life and the voice out of some pieces.

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    1. I got the wake up call when an editor sent me a rejection with a note that said, "Your voice, like what I read in your blog, doesn't show up until midway into the first chapter and that's too late."
      I was stunned. I worked my butt off on those first couple of pages and the blog is where I goof off Decided then I had to find a balance.

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  19. SCORE for you! I totally agree! There is such a thing as too much. Text books are NO FUN!

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    1. No they're not. If they didn't force me to buy them, I never would've owned any!

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  20. This is SUCH good advice. It's so true. Life isn't perfect. Characters shouldn't be perfect. Just be true to the story.

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    1. True...though sometimes writing the right degree of imperfection is a challenge.

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  21. Beautiful house metaphor, made me smile :) And you are so right, being too perfect is seldom a plus. We connect with stories/characters because there are flaws. Great advice!

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    1. Thanks! And you're right, I seldom trust perfection!

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  22. Sweet! Great advice. And my home is FILLED with warmth & individuality.... hehe Wouldn't have it any other way.:)

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    1. Just like it's owner! You are certainly an individual with a distinct voice and spirit!

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  23. Sound advice. It's always good to remember voice in writing.

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    1. It really is the only thing we have that will make us stand out among all the exceptional competition.

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  24. Oops, if it weren't for all the mistakes in my writing, I'd say Celeste was my soul sister. I'm taking your advice to heart. Yeah, it's a cliche, shut up.

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    1. I love a cliche...they are the common bond of language.

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