Why seek perfection?
Posted by jrmurdock
I never claim to be perfect in anything that I do. Far from it. Do I think I’m a perfect writer? Oh, heavens no. Not by a long shot. Do I want to be a perfect writer? That’s not the right question.
To write a “perfect” story is to be one that is so generic, it’s lost all its personality. It’s washed clean and no longer has any personality.
That doesn’t mean riddled with typos and grammatical errors. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the writer’s voice. When I write, I’m protective of that voice and my creativity.
I’m not out to offend anyone with my writing. That’s not my goal. I’m also not trying to set anyone on edge. All I try to do, is tell a story I’m happy with, enjoy telling and am satisfied with. In the end, I really write for myself first. I don’t tell a perfect story mostly because I don’t want to read a perfect story.
I don’t like stories where everything works out perfectly for all involved. That’s not how life normally works. There are bumps, ups, downs, lurches, crashes. Things can get messy. Many of my favorite books have devastating outcomes. I’m not a happily-ever-after writer.
On top of that, I’m not perfect in the fact that I may be plugging away on a story, and forget a detail by the time I get to the end of the book. Yes, I’ll usually do a read through of the book once it’s done and try to clean up typos, but I will sometimes miss a small detail. I’ve had some of these pointed out to me before. Every time I’ve decided that it’s not critical to the plot and likely not something that most readers will get hung up on. If they do…guess what.
I’m happy they got hung up on that one little detail. Why? It’ll keep them thinking about my stories. I may not be the best writer you’ve ever heard of…but you have heard of me, right?
Don’t take that as “I hate my audience” or “I think they’re all stupid.” Heavens no. I love every reader. I don’t want someone to walk away from a book upset or unhappy. Let me give an example of what I’m talking about.
In Golden West book 1, one character gives another character a coin during a train ride.
Now, will this detail get you hung up on the outcome of the story if it’s not resolved? I did go back and remove that based on one person’s feedback and now I wish I’d left it in there. Not because I want anyone to get hung up, but because it was a minor detail that had no impact on the outcome of the story. Perhaps readers would have allowed their mind to wander and come up with a solution on their own.
When I reader an Epic fantasy series years ago, I got hung up on a small detail like this. The main character pricked himself on a thorny vine and the author dedicated a paragraph to how the thorn worked its way under the skin and into the character’s flesh.
And? And? thousands of pages later…I’m still hung up on that one small detail. Years later, I still remember that small detail. The book series had ‘thorn’ in it. The main character got pricked by a thorn. Why? Why did the author invest so many words to tell me about it?
In the end, the series is magnificent. I have no complaints. Is it a perfect series? No. It’s got flaws, and quirks. But it’s got character its own and I’m not talking about POV characters. I’m talking about the writing style is almost its own character. The author’s style comes across. I’ve read everything by this author because of those little details that keep me thinking about the book and wondering “What about?”
I’ve rambled long enough. I’m off to go make words happen.
Until Next Time!
Audio Only: https://anchor.fm/jr-murdock/episodes/5-a-Day-With-Jay—0142-e11hcfq
Posted in Blog Post
Tags: author, bad writing, chasing perfection, fandom, imperfect, imperfect writing, publishing, reader, schedule, update, writer, writing