Creative Writing & Realism

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Every story I begin, I hate. This is a strong word, I know, but it applies. I pound it all out, save the document, and put it away. Then I wait. Eventually, I screw up the courage to look again after the passion of the moment is gone. I see the words on the page for what they are and begin the tedious process of revising. There’s a gaping hole in the plot. Edit. That scene description went on far too long. Delete. Is that even how you spell that word? Research.

Still, the editing process is refreshing in a way. It’s like when you’ve finished the laundry, knowing you’ve got all fresh linens in the house and smelling the crisp white. You can bask in the glow a little while, then get back to housekeeping. That’s the glory of it. But for me, the hardest part is finally sharing with someone else, taking their criticism. Having someone else tell you that your character is flat, well, those are practically fighting words.

I have a few friends that I share my work with first. They’re the encouraging ones. Sometimes I even pick the particularly literature-naive so as to avoid any serious rending of the text–these friends swallow fiction readily and generally don’t look too closely at the realism of the piece. But when it’s time to get serious, I have to show the seriously critical minds. I have to let them peel back the layers and help me find the real story underneath.

There’s something to be said for creativity, of course, but in the end it’s the realists in my life that get the craft off the ground and soaring. To me, sometimes it may seem like they’re suggesting cumbersome bits or want gone the best decoration–then I realize, without the extra weight there’s no substance and my wordiness is excessive. I begin to work in earnest and in the end, I find the story I meant to write in the first place.

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