honesty requires practice

When I came back from London a wee rejection was waiting for me in my inbox. Not the nicest thing to come home to, but that’s the writing life. It was a rather uninformative rote rejection, which arrived after nearly a three-month wait, but the up side (I try to think positive) was that it gave me the perspective I needed to re-examine, and re-write, the story.

The story did not require a massive change, but it needed close attention and significant tweaking.

Buddha is in the details.

The story has an emotional human story at its core. In my opinion, that’s what’s central to all good stories. Yes, the flying airships and laser-guided missiles are cool, but unless there is a recognisable human dilemma at the centre of the story then it’s just a lot of gadgetry wank, or in the case of elves in long sleeves battling armoured tigers, elaborate set pieces with nifty costumes.

Yet, human drama has a terrible tendency to drift into melodramatic theatrics. So, one of my tasks in this latest rewrite was to leech out the hyperbolic, and instil honesty. Honesty in writing can be difficult. It’s easy to reach for the convoluted metaphor, or the sideways glances and authorial interjections. Writers have a truck-load of tricks that can be used to create a safe distance between emotion and the reader. Equally, they can be used to establish the poignancy of human relationships, and demonstrate the pain and love that is at their heart. I hope I achieved the latter.

Mostly, I think it’s about trusting to reader to get it. We live in a world of nuances. We can intuit the death of a relationship from a shrug, or the beginning of an illicit love affair from a lingering casual touch.

The baseball bat approach should be used sparingly.

If I didn’t get it this draft – and I’m sure the current editor that’s reviewing the story will inform me if that’s the case – I hope I will nail it in the next one.