Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Refined




After finishing a humongous writing project, I wondered which story to take on next. Oh yes, definitely, at least fifty ideas popped in my mind...BUT

Only one lingered.

The characters called to me from afar. Their voices barely audible. In fact, they sounded muffled. 

A character called out again, "Me. Help me. Please."

I recognized his voice. He lives in a story I'd shelved long ago. Buried beneath the dust in the drawer. Suffocating in the stifling air. "I can improve. I promise! Just please get me out of here." 

He did not deserved to be rescued. Why I bothered to let the ink fade instead of letting the trash man haul the measly creation not worthy of a binding, I didn't know before this moment.

There are and were rules to refinement. Rules meant to be followed and never broken. The story had been nurtured, given time to grow, and taught the proper acceptable ways, yet it waxed sentences with poor structure, repetition, inferior writing unworthy of the reading populace. Had it not been for the one or two redeeming components, the MC would have never graced a ray of light again.

But today the story called out. Begging for a second chance. 

Did it deserve a moment's glance? Schedules were made for a reason. Deviation is weak. Still, the voice called. 

1. Would the words conform to new teachings learned at conferences, from books, and critique partners and become refined? 
2. Would the audience intrigued by this genre long to welcome it's pages?
3. Is there enough of a foundation to rebuild a solid story or has the wind blown away too much declaring the substance to be nothing more than chaff?
4. Do the characters and their plight still tug at the heart robbing writer of sleep until the story finally becomes refined?

The answer is yes.

While this story babbled in infant stage, a writer I'd not personally met before, read chapters. She laughed, saw potential, and invited me to join a writing group and become a contributor.

A school teacher in another state read the story. She read it to her students for several years.

An editor took the story to her publishing house where, after a step or two, the manuscript was rejected. 

Face it, MC, the story is the ugly duckling's twin. 

"But I have redeeming qualities. I'm ready to tell the story to readers."

You're saying pride won't stand in the way of refinement?

"Yes. You'll see. I've changed and am ready and willing to stand the test of refining."

You realize all the words will be crushed. Reformed. No glue can repair what is needed. Pages will turn white and new ink will stain the paper. The story will change. You will change. You will be refined.

"Yes. I understand. I'm ready." He offered me a cup of tea and grinned. "I'm ready. Do your worst."

Mark my word, I will. 

I set the pathetic words on my writing palette and read, cringing at the sentences and the flow. What flow? Who was this supposed writer pretending to use my name and claiming this was a good story all those years ago?

I crushed the story, keeping only the core plot, main theme, and characters. The despicable skeletons shaming this story were pulverized into dust. 

No fear. 

Refine.

MC's story would no longer please my selfish spirit, but would grace the hearts of readers with poise, witticism, action, courage, and victory.

And become refined

So Alley friend, do you have a story shoved in the back of your drawer begging to be refined? You've learned a lot since then. Is this the next story waiting for your pen?

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Mary Vee -  Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. These activities require lots of traveling, which is also tops on her list. For some crazy reason, the characters in Mary’s young adult mystery/suspense fiction stories don’t always appreciate the dangerous and often scary side of her favorite activities. Unbelievable.

Mary studies marketing and writing skills, and pens missionary and retellings of Bible stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has been a finalist in several writing contests.

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6 comments:

kaybee said...

MARY, of course stories can be redeemed, if they have good bones and a good concept. As we refine our skills, we can see potential in stories that didn't quite make it out of the gate. I've been shopping an Oregon Trail novel around for years now, and last year I decided to revisit an earlier story, a post-World War I piece, and see if it had any potential at all. With the craft skills I've learned over five painful years, I saw what needed to be done and I did it. I started sending it out on a whim. The book was first in last year's Phoenix Rattler and an agent asked for a full. Not all our false starts should be revisited and frankly I have some that make me cringe, but that one was a good gamble.
Kathy Bailey

Mary Vee said...

I am so excited about your post-World War I manuscript!! How incredibly exciting. Good job! Didn't it make you feel good when you finished the new version? Kinda tingly and giddy.
And yes not all should be revisited...BUT..it's amazing how a kernel from those unseemly stories can grow into a new, profound story. Daughters and Sons of Ugly Ducklings.
Great chatting with you, Kathy.

kaybee said...

Mary, yes, I did feel tingly, because I realized I HAD learned something over those five years. There is nothing like the feeling of finally getting it right.
KB

Mary Vee said...

I'm totally with you. Way to go, KB, you are an example for some, a kindred for others, and, yes a follower of others yet. :)

Pepper said...

Oh Mary,
I love the idea of redeeming stories. It always reminds me of a spiritual truth :-)

Mary Vee said...

Yes >nodding in agreement< So true. Good thought. Thanks, Pepper