Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Enough?

In writing, it's tempting to use a cliche, skim the surface of a character's emotions, or gloss over the details. But it robs the reader - and the writer - of depth.

I've discovered recently, after slogging through my novel edits, that I'm tempted to just come up with some old, hackneyed phrase or generic description and say, "Good enough." and then move on. Fortunately, I usually come back to it with the overwhelming need to fix it. And thank goodness, too. As writers, we need to dig deeper than what's available on the surface. Is it easy? No. It's incredibly hard sometimes. But we need to stretch ourselves. Otherwise, how will we improve? How will we keep our writing fresh and engaging?

Next time you're tempted to tell yourself, "Good enough" and move on, resist the urge. Either fix it right then and there, or make a note to yourself to go back and change it later. You owe it to yourself - and your readers.

13 comments:

  1. Oh boy...the endless joys of edits and revisions, hunh? :)

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  2. Angie - I tell ya, some days it is really like slogging through mud. :-)

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  3. I'm slogging, too. UGH.

    But it's that drive to be better than "good enough" that keeps me moving.

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  4. I've found that if I write a sentence or two that is "good enough" it nags me until I go back and improve it. If I have doubt about any part of the work, I try to listen to it and do something aout it.
    Now the problem arises if I doubt my whole book! LOl Which I have and so the reason I am writing a new one!

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  5. Janna - Amen. I think it keeps me going, too. :-)

    Terri - Sometimes, I think we just need to let some of those "doubt" books go. The trick is to discern whether it's really bad or if we're just TELLING ourselves that it's bad because of that old internal editor.

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  6. Great reminder! It's especially easy when we get to the end and get tired. It's then I'm most tempted to try to take short cuts. But if we want to compete in today's market, we can't settle for anything less than our absolute best!

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  7. My action tags can get so lame. How many times can these people smile, shrug, or shake their heads? One of my books, honestly, had so much grinning going on, I thought I was writing an episode of Hee-Haw.

    Yeah, I'm guilty!

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  8. Jody - I think that is when the "good enough syndrome" is at its worst - when we're tired and just want to be done with it. I know I've been at that point many a time.

    Jill - Oh, I hear you. I have to watch the shaking heads and smiles, too. :-)

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  9. A lesson we all need reminded of from time to time.

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  10. Travis - Consider yourself reminded. ;-)

    Hey Brian! Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. So true...and this is why rewrites separate the writers from the wannabes. When you go back to fix something even though you've been through the ms so many times you can't stand to look at it one more minute...even though you've rewritten that scene or sentence a hundred times...even though your brain feels empty...you're a writer,for sure!

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  12. Christine, oh boy, did you ever describe it spot on. I am tired of my manuscript and want it to just be DONE but I know it's not yet. And I refuse to let it out of my sight and fall back on the "good enough" excuse. :-)

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