Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Big Picture

Sky--Charles Harold Davis--1856-1933 A couple of days ago, I was busily clearing out the weeds and grass that encroached on the kids’ sandbox in the backyard. “What are you doing?” asked my son.

I frowned at him in confusion. It was pretty obvious what I was doing—I had yard clothes on, ugly gloves, and was yanking up weeds by their roots. “I’m weeding around the sandbox. Then I’m thinking about putting flat pavers around it to help keep the grass and weeds out. I’m going to get some hanging baskets of flowers to put on the fence here, too.”

I kept working and he said, “Mom? Do you think Sister and I still need a sandbox?” He said it hesitantly like he didn’t really want to burst my bubble. I sat back on my heels. Oh! The 13 year old doesn’t need a sandbox. Why didn’t I realize this? “Well, but Sister does,” I said. “She’s just eight.”

“But for how long, Mom? Maybe you shouldn’t put too much time in it.” He looked sadly at me as if he were telling me the truth about Santa. Children grow up, Mom. Don’t turn the sandbox into a major landscaping project.

It got me thinking about my different manuscripts and the times I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Especially for the first couple of books, there were so many times where I was picking apart the grammar, spelling, the pace, the style, my voice—but didn’t look at whether the plot worked.

The Big Picture:

Is the plot logical? Are there plot holes? Is there enough conflict? Is it boring? Had I obviously manipulated the plot at any point?

Is the story good?

How do you alternate between looking at the big picture and the smaller ones?


Please join me tomorrow when author Stephen D. Rogers will be guest posting on “Making a Long Story Short.”