Thursday, June 26, 2008

Story Vows

Nearing the home stretch of a novel, the story begins to feel a bit like a tired friendship. At times, taken for granted and not recognized for the gift it has become. As guilty as I am of this infraction, it has been worse. This has been my most faithful and burning project to date and the most deserving of some promises to carry me to the end:

1)I promise not to bloat you with ten dollar words when twenty-five cent ones will do.

2)I promise to forsake all other ideas, even the sparkling allure of the holographic map story, as tempting as it may be, and focus solely on you until the last sentence unfolds.

3)I promise to leak out a line to my Twitter account sporadically, instead choosing to keep the magic between us.

4)I promise to return to you, even when you're difficult or have left me adrift, when life interferes and I can only imagine a root canal would be favorable to the bloodletting on the page.

5)I promise to check each historical fact against two sources, to ensure no critic will ever undermine what we created.

6)I promise to divorce myself from the subplot, even though it has amazing emotional potential, if it makes the rest stronger.

7)I promise to steer you away from the nebulous between-genre ditch the others have fallen into and keep you safely in the parameters of marketability.

8)I promise to always remember the spark I love most about you when all others doubt.

9)I promise never to demean you, curse you, or devalue the time we've spent together, for no writing is ever wasted.

10)I promise to wait to send you out into the world until I'm sure it's the best we can do.

What promises do you owe your story?


Marilyn Brant said...

Fabulous list, L.A.

The only promise I'm making to my story right now (I'm halfway through it), is to muddle through this first draft until it's on paper--in all its unevenness and lack of clarity. I can't really think beyond that because, if I focus on everything that needs to happen afterward, it'll send me running to the basement in hiding.

Jen FitzGerald said...

I agree, L.A., good points. Like Marilyn, my single promise is to just finish the first draft, then worry about what's next.


Sue L said...

Hi LA. I love your promises and I agree with most of them.

I've been working through some tough chapters, I'm currently doing edits on a completed draft, and set back a week to let some stuff simmer because I wasn't happy with it. I realized that while the plot and subplot elements are sound, they aren't well enough reflected in the manuscript and I'm excited to be writing forward again.

So I guess the main promise I make is to my characters, that I'll tell their story, being as true to the story as I can, and telling it in the best way that I can. I know that sometimes falls in the murky cross-genre cavern that you mention in #7, but I'm not sure I can stay away from that.

Anonymous said...

The "holographic map story" sounds cool. But you are right to resist the new.

I can't at the moment. So I promise the new thing my best.

I think my current novel-in-progress is ready to sue for divorce.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I forgot the promise to my characters. Thanks for the important reminder :)

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your promises..