Resuscitation of a Garbage Disposal

2013-08-22 20.56.10So I got up this morning and packed some snacks for work. In the midst of cleaning up, I attempted to use my garbage disposal. Instead of the ridiculously loud noise that it normally makes, a pathetic ‘blehhh’ sounded from the sink. I shut off the disposal and tried again – nothing this time. Wow, I so did not have time to worry about this. So on the way to work I called my handyman who also happens to be my father.

Dad being Dad made me explain exactly what happened. It wasn’t even a fun story to embellish (and trust me as a writer I can embellish). I summarized it as ‘blehhh’ and death. My garbage disposal had met its maker.

But as Mark Twain once said (and I am paraphrasing) “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  Dad repaired the disposal and it is back to its obnoxiously loud self once again. And it got me thinking about my writing. How could a garbage disposal get me to think about writing you might ask? Well, sometimes as writers we create a scene or a character that makes perfect sense in theory but doesn’t translate well once the story begins. In other words my work is suffering from ‘blehhh.’

So we have choices to make (and choices stink sometimes, kind of like the food down a disposal…okay that was a cheap comparison, but you saw it coming, right?).

Choice #1 – repair the character or the scene. This is the most obvious choice. But it doesn’t make it any less difficult. Figure out WHY it isn’t working and then perform ‘word surgery’ on that scene or character to liven them up.

Choice #2 – repurpose the character or move the scene to another part of the book (and jazz it up, of course). Sometimes a scene might not be playing well because it is not in the right place. Writers have to be flexible and willing to move stories around.

Choice #3 – kill them. Now I don’t mean kill your characters in the story, although that is a possibility. I mean strip them from the story. Now as writers we hate to do that, but ultimately the story has to pull the reader in.

So once you have made your choice and completed your repairs, you need to flip that switch and make sure your story is working again. For me I don’t want the ‘blehhh’ and death scenarios for my creations. Ultimately like my garbage disposal resuscitation is my goal. I have invested too much of myself in my words and written world not to fight for it.

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