Forgive me football haters.
It’s all about choices. There’s this football movie where Al Pacino, the coach, is giving his team the big motivation Talk before the game. He talks about his own wreck of a life and then he talks about how the game, like life, is decided by inches, by an inch. You move a little too slow or a little too fast, you arrive a second too soon or a second too late, and you fail. You do it all right and you have the chance for success.
Truman Capote said, “The difference between good and great is subtle but savage.” I’d say the difference between good and almost-good is the same. It’s hard to write a good story or novel. It’s very, very hard. It’s hard to see when you don’t write well. Once you learn the basics-- you know grammar, you understand character and plot and setting and you have a feel for language-- it’s all a matter of subtle choices. You make the right ones and at the end of the day (year) you have a book. You make the wrong ones and at the end of the day(year) you have a manuscript that doesn’t work. Sometimes it almost works. It’s very close. That’s a bit of a heart breaker, the almost good manuscript.
So how do you make the right choices? That’s the big question. That’s the one that has no single answer because every manuscript is different.
I do think one thing you can do to help yourself make the right choices is to struggle to be in the scene, to BE THERE and not allow yourself to force your characters to do things from the outside. Try to find that place that allows you to experience the scene with the character. That closeness will help you find your way.
Or so I think today.