So today I got some more feedback, and I felt inclined to argue with some of it. Not in a “you’re wrong” way, but more of a “well I said this, isn’t that enough?” kind of way. It’s not particularly useful to do this, so I held my tongue, but did ask questions that hinted toward this. The answers provided were useful in helping me determine just why what I said was ambiguous. This is something I suffer from as a writer, and it is something that when criticized I have to ask a lot of questions about. I think it comes from being an actor. On stage you have lots of help telling a story. There are sets, lights, costumes, etc. You don’t have to establish when and where you are at every given turning point in a story like you do in a novel.
This is a reason I ADORE my betas! I need to know what was vague. When I read my book, I see it unfold just like a movie. It’s a fun ride, and one I really enjoy, but I’ve seen it too many times. I can walk you through scene by scene, almost line by line. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to respond to questions and comments with 100% certainty what the answer is, and why I thought it was clear. It’s a curse because, since I know all the answers, clarifying them for everyone else is a lot of hard work. I fear overstating the obvious and/or giving away things early and ruining tension.
These are things I often deal with in life in general. I was told I was not smart for many years, which I understand is not entirely true. I’m first to admit I hate math, HATE IT, but I know now there are other types of intelligence. That being said, I sometimes fall into a bad habit formed when I was young. If I learned something fascinating, like that our currency is no longer determined by the gold standard, I would try to slip this into conversation as a way to prove I wasn’t a moron. I would usually do this and expect one of two reactions:
- “The devil you say, I don’t believe you.” (Or whatever the 21st century equivalent that you might prefer)
- “I didn’t know that! You’re so smart.”
Unfortunately, the usual response was “Well duh, everyone knows that. Why did you bring it up?” The fact that this happened a few times as a tween made me believe that if I knew something, certainly everyone else did. It wasn’t until I took my first writing course in college that I learned this was not true. I wrote a story about Maria Callas, assuming everyone knew she was a famous opera singer. In my entire class, two people knew that, and one of them looked it up after reading my story. However, I am certain this is where my fear of stating the obvious comes from.
I will discuss “the fear of giving things away early and sacrificing tension” tomorrow