by Deren Hansen
it's deeply ironic that we who are storytellers often fall prey to the
tricks of our own trade when we hear these stories and afflict ourselves
with unrealistic expectations. We hear, for example, of the writer who
went from query to book deal in 37 days, note that our own queries have gone unanswered for more than 37 days, and conclude that we're not worthy.
Why do we do this? We forget that the foundation of the storyteller's art is to skip the boring bits.
Advice about pacing, pithy dialog, and scenes ("in late, out early")
all comes down to artfully avoiding the boring stretches that are an
inevitable part of real life.
And how will you tell
your success story? Fresh from the process of scrupulously scrubbing all
the boring bits out of your manuscript will you say, "Then on the
following Tuesday, I wrote 1673 words. But when I looked over the new
material on Wednesday, I decided I needed to rework half of it so I
didn't reach my new word count goal that day ..." No, you'll apply your
craft and weave together a concise narrative of the highs and lows of
the experience with a sprinkling of lessons learned. Above all, you will
make it a story with protagonists, antagonists, try/fail cycles, a
climax, and a denouement.
Because that's the essence of what you do as a storyteller.
next time you hear a success story, remember that it is a story. Learn
what you can from it, but don't compare it directly with your experience
because you simply don't know all the boring bits that were skipped to
make it a good story.
Deren blogs at The Laws of Making.