Sunday, November 15, 2009

No one can see inside my mind. Not sure if that's good or bad.

We were watching Flight of the Conchords on the weekend. If you're not familiar with the show, it's about a band from New Zealand trying to make it in New York. In the episode they were having a band meeting with their manager Murray. They're trying to figure out why no one is coming to their gigs.

Murray: We have to face facts - you guys just aren't cool.

Jermaine: I am.

Murray: You may look cool in your mind Jermaine, but when other people are looking at you they don't see what's happening inside your head. They only see the outer shell.

In the show Murray gives the band some hair gel to make them look cool, and suddenly they become a hit.

I found this with my writing. When my husband read my first draft he kept asking me all kinds of questions. I would explain what I meant by a certain sentence or paragraph then he would grumble, "You have to remember that you may know those facts, but your readers don't. They can't read your mind."

After a moment of being offended I went back and re-read my book and realized he was right. (I hate it when that happens). I really need to make sure I struck a balance between laying the story out so that the readers understood without giving too much away.

With time my writing has improved, and just like the hair gel, hopefully It'll help me become a hit.

19 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

Have you tried writing with the hair gel in? That might be the key to publication... I think I'm off to buy some hair gel :))

jenniferneri said...

Details, so many details to consider when editing. Give away too much and it becomes boring, too little and things are not clear for the reader. If I think about it too much my brain goes fuzzy.
Cute post :)

strugglingwriter said...

That's just cool you have somebody like that to give you honest feedback. This can be a rare thing.

Heidi Willis said...

So do you wear the hair gel yourself, or put it on your characters? :)

There is such a fine balance between telling too much and not enough. I used to write EVERYTHING I knew about the characters, and then I realized the reader didn't care whether or not my main character had her tonsils removed as a kid.

Then in the next book a beta pointed out I never described a single thing about how my main character looked.

Oh, that finding a balance is hard!!

lotusgirl said...

I used to have a real problem with the same thing. It's hard to not know what's coming when you know what's coming so to speak.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Sometimes a little hair gel is all you need. Sounds like he gave you some great advice! Don't worry, I won't tell anyone! :0)

Patti said...

Tabitha: The hair gel definitely made them cool. I have frizz control, hopefully that will be enough.

Jennifer: I've had a headache for the last three weeks, but that could be because of a recent root canal.

SW: Honest feedback is great even if it's from my husband.

Patti said...

Heidi: I had the same problem in my second WIP I realized I didn't describe the character at all until the second chapter.

Lois: It's hard being all knowing.

Kristen: I love your happy face at the end of your comment :0), that's totally awesome.

Susan R. Mills said...

Darn those hubbies when they are right. You will be a hit. :)

Patti said...

Susan: Thanks for the encouragement. I needed that today.

Carolyn V. said...

How funny! I was just checking out clips of Flight of the Conchords last weekend.

In my writing, I stuggle with details. Those pesky things.

Kasie West said...

Hair gel changes everything. :) It's nice to have a reader who will be upfront with you. And it's good that you can take his criticism and apply it. (this is why my husband is not allowed to critique my book--because I he can say the same thing as the person next to him and I take it differently when he says it.)

Dawn Simon said...

Can you share what kind of hair gel Murray recommends? ;) It's nice that your hubby catches your snags. As disappointing as it is, we can't catch everything ourselves.

Natalie Murphy said...

Hello! Yep, I knew you lived near Calgary-- I spotted that when I joined your blog =]

My parents live in Strathmore (east of Calgary), but I go to Mount Royal University in the city.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I had my husband read my first page out loud the other day, and I don't think I'll ever do that again. I mean, he can read it, but not out loud. Onto the hair gel...ooh, I wish it was that easy. A little hair gel and my book is a winner. I am having trouble striking that balance as well. Just the right amount of information...

JKB said...

I think we need to invent some book gel....too funny!

Heather Sunseri said...

Yeah, I find those questions from my hubby so discouraging, but they really shouldn't be. That's what having that first reader is all about. You and I are lucky to have husbands who will do that for us, so we can fix those issues before the next person reads it. I loved this post. Hair gel is a must, I think.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great analogy! We might think our writing is striking a chord with our readers, but perhaps it takes just a little more magical gel to get it resound with them!

Patti said...

Or maybe we need a special pen to make us write better or a neon keyboard.