Finding substance

You’ve got a lovely bit of detail here, but not much in the way of substance. You may want to extend this a little bit, just long enough for her to discover something or change in some way. She discovered the letter, but she didn’t learn anything from it.

Uninvoked posted the above comment in regard to the first draft or impulse draft ( you can read the first draft here for reference) of my latest S.Stry idea. This type of advice is great to get on a first draft, first of all, it tells you that they like it; that there is something in the piece that interests them, for Uninvoked it is the detail, but they are right the piece does lack substance.

In the practice of stream of consciousness this piece, to some, would be considered fine as it is. You just let the muse pour through you and the reader will add their own interpretation. I’m not making a commentary on that writing practice just that it exists, and as it is, I do enjoy just letting a piece remain in its purity, But I agree with Uninvoked, it needs substance in order to reach out to a broader audience.

The last post was about the inspiration or the exercise that birthed the ideas behind this story, but now that it has been outlined on the page, the original inspiration can be forgotten (at least for this piece other pieces may need to hold to the muse).

One thing or feeling I got after I reread this piece is that I would like to change the relationship between the character Marguerite and the man, whose name we do not know. Right now, as it is written, my impression is that they were perhaps lovers, partners, romantic in some way. I don’t think this works. This is a feeling. As I was writing it on the blog, I kept having this feeling that they should be siblings, but to stick with the idea behind the blog I decided to leave it in its original form, but my gut tells me this is a story about siblings.

This discovery or intuition alone will change will help to add to the need for substance. As a writer, I find that asking questions is the best approach I can find for building a story. I know that this is a relationship piece, I do tend to be a relationship writer, but there is also more, like what is Marguerite’s feeling to her (now) brother’s death, is it apathy? Is apathy interesting? It can be if written well, but do you need a motivation behind the apathy?

Questions I have for myself are as follows:

What are their ages? Who is the younger sibling? What was their family life? Why did he kill himself? (these don’t have to be answered in the story but it is good for me to know) Was he depressed? Did he suffer from a depression or bi-polar disorder? Had he always been a recluse? What caused this? What was their relationship? Did she take care of him? Did she have to take care of everything?

Uninvoked did not say anything about my grammar or punctuation, and this is so valuable to me as a writer. In the beginning stages so many reader’s critic the writer of the grammatical mistakes, and this does nothing to help with the substance or truth of the story. I can fix every run on sentence, every misspelling, and it would still lack substance. Never ever worry about the editing till the very end, the story is the most important, its like presenting a plate of frosting, it may look beautiful and elegant in design, but where’s the cake? I would much rather eat a nice fluffy layered cake spongy in texture and exploding in flavor than lick a plate of sugar.

If other questions arise in regard to the first draft please feel free to post them as comments.

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2 responses to “Finding substance

  1. Wow. I am flattered that you chose to post such an indepth reply to my comment. I strongly agree with you on not editing grammar in a first draft. After all, what’s the point? You’re going to take half of it out anyway (or at least I do) and probably the errors you so carefully removed will be for nothing anyway.

    I can’t wait to see this story develop more. Your responses and graceful response have me hooked.

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