Go Back To Basics

Tonight at my hospital, we had a Code Black. That meant we moved our kids & their families out into the halls, away from the windows in their rooms. While out there, one of my little bitties started choking. Of course, there’s no wall suction in the hall & the halls are crowded with beds and cribs so I can’t even move him to an interior room with wall suction. So I went back to basics; I inserted one of the long suction catheters & sucked that mucus out with my mouth.

Once upon a time, that’s how I used to get sputum for lab testing. But in those days, there was a device where you could use mouth suction without risking mucus in the mouth. Over the years, we got used to our fancy machines and a lot of the newer nurses were a little grossed out by what I did. Sometimes, writers are the same way…caught up with the “fancy” parts of writing.

Ever have a section you just can’t get to work out? A character who doesn’t do what he/she is supposed to do? Dialogue that limps along? Bet you went looking for help. Either on the Internet or notes taken at a former workshop or maybe even picking the brains of more experienced writers. And these are all good remedies, but what about that particular piece of writing where you just can’t get outside help to answer your need? Go back to the basics.

There are a lot of fancy theories out there. Five different plotting methods. All kinds of “fill-in” charts and forms. Tons of “how to” books. Again, go back to basics. You’re basically a storyteller. That means the basic thing you do is tell a story. If you have a section that’s stopping you, forget everything but the story. Tell it & be dammed to the “official” way. An editor may not approve. An agent might cry. And your CPs might stare at you and say, “What were you thinking?”

As long as the section moves the story along, no matter what crap the actual words are, you can always fix it later. And once you have the basic story down on paper, well, those things you learned from books, notes, and trusted fellow authors can help you fancy it up. So don’t think of the basics as too simple for a gifted writer. Be the storyteller first, then the gifted writer.


7 thoughts on “Go Back To Basics

  1. Jackie,

    I think this is GENIUS advice. We do get wrapped up in all the ‘things’ and sometimes forget the basics: tell the story, and tell it with heart.

    Sorry you had to suffer through the tornado warnings, but thank God the hospital was not hit!! spw

  2. Bob & Magolla–can really tell you guys have a medical background. Meg & Sandee–glad you guys read far enough through the gross stuff to get to the point on my post. Didn’t think about non-medical readers who upchuck before they finished reading it.

  3. Great advice, Jackie. There’s so much conflicting information out there, so many people saying, “You HAVE to . . .” and “You CAN’T . . .” that I’m surprised newbie writers ever manage to get an entire book written.

    Ignore everyone. Tell your story. Then fix it. Wonderful!

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