Self Critique and the Road to the End

Okay, so, you started writing a novel. Maybe it’s your first, maybe not. Either way, at some point a mind nugget erupted deep in your psyche, giving you visions. Scenes from an epic story burst forth in Technicolor. Scenes that you, you personally, must write.

You put pen to paper or more likely, fingers to keys and pound out line after line with enthusiasm and gusto. The story rolls out in front of you like a winding mountain road bathed in the golden light of a spring evening. As the words flow you begin to analyze what you’ve created. Self critique is natural and inevitable. You critique both what you’ve already written and what’s to come. Though you still have much to write, the end is in sight and you want to make sure that it is indeed where you want to go.

There, in the distance, past towering sequoia and a carpet of lush sword fern, you spy your vision of the end. The grand conclusion to your magnum opus. You squint to see what your vision holds. Originally, you envisioned a moss-covered, flat rock overlooking a vast canyon with cascading waterfalls and a river that glistens like sapphires. That’s the ending your story deserves. That’s the ending you desire.

Instead, the golden light illuminates the winding road as it dead ends into the cul-de-sac of an RV park.  Wait, what? This isn’t right. It can’t be right. Is your story doomed?

Maybe. Before the horror begins to set in, the first thing, I think, is to talk to somebody you trust and get their honest opinion. Let their fresh eyes and mind assess your ending. We as writers often struggle to be objective about our own ideas. Sometimes that disappointing vision at the end of the road is just a mirage. Our satisfying ending still awaits. Our minds may just be playing tricks on us. If so, we must forge ahead to where the promised land awaits.

Or, maybe our confidant will confirm that our story really does end in that RV park and that if we don’t alter course, our story will end with canned chili and the din of ten inch tv screens tuned into game shows. If this is the case, it’s time to pull into a gas station or motel and work out a brand new route. That route may come quickly or need a lot of planning but there is always better route.

Our story map holds many roads that we can travel.   We just need to be sure that our original road is indeed wrong before we make a change. It would be a shame to let a trick of the eye ruin a beautiful trip.

1 Comment

Comments are closed.