Sunday, October 18, 2009

missed opportunities

There are a lot of missed opportunities in new manuscripts. We all have these in real life, too. Something we wished we’d said, the pithy remark that puts the rude or arrogant person in his or her place. Or maybe we miss the chance to say something helpful to someone or to reveal something of ourselves to someone we love.

The good thing about fiction is a missed opportunity isn’t really missed. We get do-overs all the time. We get the gift of revision.

A lot of times I think we sense when a scene in a manuscript isn’t all it could be. We know there’s a soft spot where more needs to be revealed or said or done. Pay attention to this feeling. Listen to it. Each scene has to be as perfect as we can make it, and it has to be important or it shouldn’t be in the manuscript anyway. Make it important. Don’t give yourself a pass by thinking it’s pretty good. When revising, that’s the time to really look closely at scenes and ask the tough questions about the scene’s worth. If you’re sure it belongs, then the next thing to look at is how does it change the characters and have you made the characters clearly show these changes to the reader. If not, then that’s a missed opportunity. Try to find a way to make the scene important to the story.


Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great words of wisdom - you are so right! Thanks for the powerful reminder.


Anonymous said...

I really needed to read these very words today. Thank you.

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Shannon. I appreciate your stopping by.

Brian Yansky said...


Thank you for leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

Marisa Birns said...

Was revising a short story this morning when I took a coffee and twitter break and read your blog.

You're correct. I was having a small problem with one section of the story and now I see that it really does not to be in story at all!

Good thing you were around to set me right! :)

Thank you.