Know Jack #284 Let Story Ring
“Don’t force it, get a bigger hammer.” Anonymous.
This was oft delivered advice in my days as an aircraft mechanic. It served me well with home repairs more than once as well. It fell out of favor when I became a writer. You just can’t force a story. Well, you can but the damage will always show.
I know why modern screenwriters ignore this little nugget of truth. The folks who invest millions in the stories they produce have a social agenda in place of a heart and love for the story. They must pander to the need to be seen during a rainbow of history months, they must have rave reviews in liberal publications, and draw customers for formulated television shows.
I battled with the temptation not long ago. I wrote a book for my Mann of God called, Redemption. My editor read it and liked the story, but it had problems. She felt the opening half of the book had a sort of romantic appeal to women, that got lost in the second half to the male characters.
We decided to try and rewrite it for its romantic appeal and make it a romance story. That done, we sent it out to a few women who are romance readers to a mixed, less than enthusiastic reception. They liked the story as a whole, but it didn’t fit the Harlequin model. We didn’t see them fall in love in the first chapter, have a breakdown, and end happily ever after—though all of those elements did find their way into the story.
Rewrite number two. We decided to ignore the potential size of the market and tell the story as it wanted to be told. Turned out that the hint of the love story was too good to ignore. It stayed, though muted somewhat. This felt more natural.
The Christian women’s romance market is enormous. Is there even a Christian men’s audience? There is, but they are ignored.
Unless the story is in charge, they labor in vain that write it.
Then, this morning I turned on an old television series called Death in Paradise. There on the screen were men and women, black and white, young and old interacting without anyone whining about how oppressed they were.
The writer in me smiled.