Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Soul of a Story

Caution: rambling ahead.

I've been thinking a lot this week about the soul of a story and how it can so easily get lost when you're wrapped up in your own revisions and editing.  Like a cross-country road trip that sounded fun over margaritas with friends, sometimes you can forget why you fell in love with your story idea in the first place.

My writer friend Susan and I were talking a lot about soul this week as we had recently exchanged drafts with the letters "SOS" written at the top.  We'd both lost our way on our stories and needed a nudge, feedback, a whack across the knees--anything.  Anything to get back on track and reconnect with the soul of our first drafts.  For me, the soul of story is that emotional element that gets you all tied up in knots and doesn't let you sleep till you get those words down just right.  In the creative stages, it almost has a mind of its own and you feel like a chauffeur, ferrying the brain wherever it wants to go.

I think a lot can be said for plowing through that first draft, even knowing it's gonna suck.  The key is to get through it.  Even though I'm as guilty of this as the next writer, don't keep going back and revise your writing.  Easier said than done, right?

Yeah.  I talk a big talk.  I struggle with continual self-editing all the time.  Don't mind me.


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Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

the soul....

Good imagery.

Tina said...

I believe in a story's soul, not even as a metaphor. I think each story chooses its author. I've read the beauty of your words, and I know your stories choose well. You should trust them. Who was it -- Tolkein? -- who said that not all who wander are lost. Sometimes it feels the same (does to me anyway) but I have faith that our stories know better than we do. Excellent post.

Karen Walker said...

Without the soul of the story, to me, the story is nothing. thanks for this, Liz.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe Susan will have some great suggestions and you'll get excited again!

Danette said...

Nice post. All great stories- novel or short story- have something unnamaable in them but I think you've just named it. Cheers!