Over the weekend I realized that you can draw some parallels between fixing up your yard and fixing up your novel. We had a small patch of lawn that for the past several years has never really done very good. The grass grew thin there and was always dried out. On Saturday I decided to dig beneath that patch of lawn to see why it was behaving badly and fix it. I figured it probably had few rocks or gravel near the surface that I just needed to take out and replace with good soil, making it a twenty minute job tops.
Sometimes our stories are like that where we can tell there’s a problem, but we’re not sure what it is. We have to dig down into it to discover the cause of the problem. This is where critique groups or readers can be a great a help. They might tell us that some of the dialogue doesn’t sound natural, the setting in one of our scenes doesn’t feel real, we have too much description, or not enough. It’s amazing how much you can improve a story by just doing some minor reworking or tweaking based on feedback you’ve received from readers or critique group members.
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to do more than just a little tweaking or editing. You might find as you dig in below the surface you have a bigger problem than you realized. That’s what happened with my lawn. In my next post I’ll tell you more about what I discovered under my lawn and how that relates to writing too.