Because your first ideas probably need work. And your second. And by “your” I mean “my.” But the rule applies to all of us.
I used to think that the fruit of inspiration meant that it was the best. The purest. When you’re inspired, your ideas must be great, right? I mean, the definition of inspired is “of extraordinary quality,” after all. If you are writing as a result of inspiration, best not touch a word or you could destroy the magic, right?!
Thhhhbbbbbppppt (fart noise).
The more I’ve written, I have learned that your inspired notions are the beginning, not the end. I’ve made it a practice of internalizing that my first pass is just a blob of ideas. Not only is it obviously far from a finished product in terms of the writing, it’s not the finished product in terms of the substance. Even if the substance is exactly what I wanted. You know why? Because there’s always a better idea. And it’s in your head. You just have to let it find its way out.
The first book of my trilogy is technically done (it’s with my first reader/wife right now), but I regularly think of improvements to it and make them. Even it if means sweeping changes. For instance, my wife pointed out that my antagonist seemed a lot like the bad guys from a very well known science fiction series. She was right. I’d unwittingly (I hadn’t read the series) made them virtual copies of the nemeses from this already widely-read story. So I had no choice but to revise my enemy. It took a lot of work, but I ultimately created a villain that was far more interesting than my first attempt. I’m glad I encountered the quagmire.
As I said in my last post, I’ve taken to running to settle my mind which has allowed me to brainstorm in peace about my story and to problem solve plot holes, gaps, character issues, etc. And you want to know what I’ve realized? If you have a positive attitude and are committed to making your story as good as it can possibly be:
The more difficult the problem, the more awesome the solution will be.
Now I no longer dread having to untie plot knots. If I commit to thinking about it long enough, eventually I find the answers. More often than knot. 🙂 You just have to be patient. It sounds masochistic, but I look forward difficult situations in my stories. A few rules apply, however, for resolving issues while maintaining the integrity of the story:
- Most obviously, I think, is maintain your characters. They have to be who they are. Don’t have them deviate just to solve a plot hole.
- No sudden magic. This can be anything that technically *solves* the conundrum but for which there is no basis earlier in the story, such as: IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM, WE’RE ALL GHOSTS, THE HERO JUST LEARNED HOW TO SHOOT LIGHTNING FROM HER EYES, IT’S A PARALLEL DIMENSION WHERE SHIT HAPPENS!
The cool thing about writing a book is that if you do need an extraordinary measure to solve a problem, you can go back in your manuscript and add what you need to justify such a thing–or even better, to make it inevitable, while not obvious.
Cliff’s notes: Plot knots; fart noises.