Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tweaking... an obsession? or just striving for perfection?

Once you have penned your article, novel, poem, letter, do you keep on wanting to 'fix' things?
I am a perennial tweaker. No day goes by without wanting to re do my last sentence. Today I am writing a short spiel for a newsletter. A spiel about me... the hardest thing to talk about. Do you think I can walk away from my 'finished' piece?

Other authors I know can put aside their work once the ink is dry.
Some days I wish I could do the same.
Is it lack of confidence? Is it wanting to reach perfection? In writing, or any form of art, perfection surely does not exist. Interpretation allows for imperfection. In painting as in writing. We are a channel for experiences, both visual and written. Everyone would and should relate any scene with focus on different aspects. So why do I worry?
Bottom line. I do worry and can't see myself stopping any time soon.

This week I woke from a nightmare with a new idea on how to improve the opening scene for Book One of the Chronicles.
Does it need improving?
I had some feedback that perhaps it does. So, I worried and came up with an idea.
Each of the other books in the series, so far, have a minstrel introducing the story. Bringing the reader up to speed. One review comment suggested the lack of back-story kept a younger reader from understanding where the action began.. so perhaps a minstrel opening the first book could help there?
The back story is sprinkled through the first few chapters, but if the younger reader didn't get that far, I have a problem. So, for one reader I lie awake at night wondering how to improve things.

Here is what I have come up with.. anyone who has read EXILED: Autumn's Peril, it would be great to know if you think this start helps...
LATEST VERSION  of opening scene from EXILED: Autumn's Peril


Marie Laval said...

I am just the same, Rosalie. Every day after work I read what I managed to write the previous evening and I change and edit and delete and tweak! And I know perfectly well that I will start the process all over again in a few days or weeks' time. Even when I did the galley editing of my first novel 'Angel Heart', I just couldn't seem to stop changing and altering words or sentences. Finally I told myself it had to stop...

Francene Stanley said...

I like the original version better. It takes the reader straight into the action. Personally, I don't like someone telling me what I should be experiencing for myself.
Perfection is impossible--so is pleasing everyone.

Katie L. Carroll said...

I like getting right into the action as well, especially for a first book in a series. It makes sense to have the minstrel in subsequent books, but I think the opening of book one doesn't need it.

I struggle with the same drive to perfection. I've gotten a little better with this as I've grown as a writer, but it is still a struggle to get the words on the page and not obsess with how imperfect they are.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Hi Marie, Francene, Katie,
I am glad I am not alone. When painting I never knew when to call a painting complete. Only once it was SOLD and had gone to a good home did I finally stop 'fixing' things. :)
Thanks for your comments and opinions. They help heaps. :)

ediFanoB said...

I think I understand your drive to perfection.
But from a reader point of view I do not like when a book that I loved reading is changed.
The version which has been released first is an unique one with all the flaws and good the good stuff.
When you change the book - even it is for the good - it will be a different book. It does not matter for people who never read the book before. But for me it changes everything.
So I will stay with the copy I received for the first time.

I hope it makes sense what I wrote.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Thanks Edi, It makes sense.
Speaking to other readers here at home, they said the same thing. So, I am realising I must learn when 'enough is enough' and to 'leave well enough alone'.
Thanks for your comment.

PK said...

It seems so tempting to tweak, especially when it comes to digital stuff, but I feel that once it's out there, then one should stick with it. One's style must change. I see newspaper articles I wrote in my 20s. I cringe, but they worked then. It wouldn't be right if I could go back.

Having said that ... I have a strange scenario. My father wrote and never managed to get published and I've just acquired his manuscripts (four novels and a short story). I'm looking into OCR, and plan to change nothing. Absolutely nothing, although it is tempting!

I shall refrain - unless it's libellous.