Lessons Learned

IMG_8639Not long ago, I had a new story, Welcome Home, published as a guest writer for On The Premises.

I love almost every story OTP publishes. That’s saying a lot, since even my closest friends and I vary widely in readerly taste. One of the reasons I believe their stories are so good is because they offer edits to their writers. On acceptance, they suggest things that should be changed.

In my story, one of the things they said is that I needed to tone down the “lessons learned” aspect of the story. I have a tendency to not trust my readers to get my point. So sometimes I say things. Then say them again. Then say them one more time, just in case the first couple of times didn’t quite make my point clear.

(Do you get my point?)

I ended up getting a copy of the story that had been edited already, and when I read through it, I sent a note back to the editors that nothing had been done to it. It wasn’t until I compared the stories side by side that I realized it had been edited. Not a lot was taken out, and what was taken out didn’t change the meaning of the story. It didn’t make it harder to understand.

I keep telling myself to trust the reader. But re-reading the story, and believing it was the same version really brought the lesson home for me.

I know that I love when I figure something out within a story. And by over-explaining myself, I’m cheating the reader of that experience.

I wish Word had a “find preachy text” search function. But since it doesn’t, I guess I’ll have to try harder to find it myself. It’s just hard to know when my point has been made.

Anyone else have experience with this, either as a reader or a writer?

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6 comments on “Lessons Learned

  1. My family says I do this with all of them about everything! I see it as clarifying my view to see if it matches theirs. They say it’s just aggravating. 😉 I feel sure I probably preach as much as I write on my blog. Though, believe it or not I do tone it down sometimes. What a gift you were given by these editors! I wonder if you wrote something, laid it down and came back a few weeks later if you could spot it yourself?
    Faith: #TheWordonWords at Life & Faith in Caneyhead.

    • doreeweller says:

      I do go away from my work and come back to it later. That helps me catch other kinds of errors, and I can even cut parts out then, but it doesn’t always help me catch the over-explaining.

  2. I generally don’t talk down to my readers. My feeling is, if you need to have everything spelled out to you, read someone else’s stuff! 🙂

    • doreeweller says:

      See, and that’s part of my problem! I’m not trying to talk down; I’m just used to having to explain what I mean. I want to change, but it’s hard for me to see where I’m over-explaining and where I’m not. I guess I just need to keep practicing.

  3. It’s so easy to recognize “pontificating” (that’s what Brother-in-Law, The Mouth calls it) in others, and so hard to see it in ourselves.

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