Friday, September 03, 2010

Five (no, Three!) Sisters

Yes, this is a post about another dream, but it's really about how writer's brains are split between the creative side and the editorial side.

This is what happened in my brain as I slept last night...

Dreaming Brain (DB): Once upon a time there were five sisters.

Editorial Brain (EB): Whoa, FIVE sisters? That's too many. What are you going to do with all of them? Maybe make it three sisters. Are you sure you want to go with third person omniscient POV? If you truly wish to write a fairy tale that POV can work, but it is the most distant and difficult for readers to identify with. Keep that in mind as you write and consider switching to first person. While we're at it -- "once upon a time"? Didn't that become a bit of a cliche about a hundred years ago? And get rid of that passive verb.

DB: They were all strong and beautiful.

EB: Another passive verb, honey. You really can't have two in a row like that. It's boring. And if you make all the sisters beautiful aren't you perpetuating the idea that female protagonists all have to be gorgeous? Why not make one not-so-beautiful? Or handicapped? Or dyslexic or bipolar?

DB: And they always got their way.

EB: You're implying a theme here. I assume you're going to show how always getting your own way isn't a good thing. Will they get their comeuppance at the end? Or perhaps one of them doesn't get her way and she ends up flourishing? Or perhaps she gets her way and ends up unhappy anyway? Either way, don't be didactic.

I can't remember much after that, but you get the idea. Writing involves so many different parts of your brain, it can be difficult to know which part to listen to.

I generally try to give the Dreaming Brain or creative side free rein while brainstorming and writing the first draft. Sometimes the Editorial Brain steps in, regardless, and I go back and rewrite before I continue on. But if you listen too much to the EB at the start, you'll never finish. And if you don't listen to it later on, you'll have a cliched mess filled with passive verbs.

No comments: