Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp writes about her struggles and success with Good Fairy/Bad Fairy.
I’ve had a story swirling in the recesses of my mind for several weeks. One that I think would work for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Last night, I opened a blank page in Word and began to write the story.
I wrote for well over an hour. The story seemed to be coming together nicely. I was aiming for 1200 words, and by the time I was ready to call it quits for the day, I had over 700 words and still a lot to be told. I didn’t take time to read over what I’d written, knew there would be time to do that in the morning.
I got ready for bed, feeling satisfied that more than half the first draft was complete. I settled down in bed to watch the news but while the news anchor and weatherman jabbered on about the day’s events, something began to gnaw at me. My story!
I knew that the story wasn’t right but what, I wondered, was wrong with it. I mentally replayed what I’d written, and the answer came. The first two paragraphs were fine, but the rest of it went into background that threatened to take over the original story. It would overshadow the original premise. Maybe I’d find a solution the next day.
Then the Bad Writing Fairy whispered that it would be a shame to lose all those words that I’d so painstakingly written. “Leave it the way it is and keep going.” The Good Writing Fairy rapped her over the head with her Writer’s Wand. but smiled sweetly at me. Then she said, “Dump all except the first two paragraphs and keep going.” I knew which one I should heed. I pushed both fairies off my pillow and decided to sleep on their advice.
The next day there was no doubt in my mind that I had to begin the story again. The first thing I decided to was to delete more than 500 words, no matter how much it hurt. There was no reason to sabotage my own story with words that didn’t belong.
A good many stories that are published look nothing like the first draft. It’s a practice round to help a writer know what direction to go. We begin and often begin again. Writing isn’t easy. Well, maybe the Bad Writing Fairy might tell you it’s a piece of cake, but the Good Writing Fairy is going to remind you that it’s hard work but well worth the effort.
If you listen to that Bad Writing Fairy too often, you’ll become a lazy writer. Sometimes she talks loud enough to make you pay attention. You’ll be a lot better off paying attention to the Good Writing Fairy. She will push you in the right direction because she wants you to be the best writer ever.
I was in that Bad Fairy/Good Fairy situation once again. I had a YA story that was finished. Well, maybe it was. It could end in two different ways. I chose one, then finished the story. But the Good Fairy kept tapping me on the shoulder with her wand. I knew she wanted me to write the second possible ending, then decide which one would work best. The Bad Fairy must have been hiding somewhere. I didn’t hear her say to use what I had and forget about writing the best ending.
I know it pays to listen to each of those little nymphs, then make an adult decision.
The Good Fairy is way ahead in scoring points.
Nancy Julien Kopp lives in Manhattan, KS where she writes creative non-fiction, fiction for children, personal essays, articles on the craft of writing, and poetry. She has been published in 22 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, newspapers, magazines, and ezines, and several anthologies including The Write Spot: Possibilities (available in both print and as an ebook at Amazon).
Nancy was Prose Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Kansas Authors Club.
She blogs at Writer Granny’s World With Nancy Julien Kopp with tips and encouragement for writers.