I’ve been sick—really sick—these past two weeks. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I’ve been to three doctors within that time period. Each of them had the same thing to say. “Tests came back normal. It’s probably just the stomach flu and will go away soon.”
Well, I got tired of waiting, so I took my health into my own hands. Yesterday I went to a naturopathic doctor, i.e. someone who combines traditional holistic healing with modern scientific medicine.
The thing that made me appreciate this approach was the desire of the doctor to understand my overall health, not just what was bothering me at the moment. He asked many questions to get to the root of my health so we could bring my body—and thereby my health—back into balance.
As you probably know, I like to relate things from my personal life to writing. You might be asking how this could possibly relate.
Let’s think for a moment about a book that you’ve written. When you’re revising and editing, do you use a checklist of items to look for? Passive voice. Check. Spell check. Yep. Consistency of protag’s hair color. Got it.
That’s good. I’m glad you have specific things you look for, but sometimes I think writers forget about the big picture, just like those doctors concerned only about the present problem instead of the overall health of the patient. We’re so involved in finding all the nitpicky little problems with grammar, punctuation, and plot that we forget to look at the general health of the story.
Is the overarching story interesting? Does the plot make sense? Are your characters realistic and act according to their personalities? Is there tension, involvement, and genuine emotion?
To answer some of the bigger questions I’ve taken to reading my story as a story, just like I would any other book. Does it grab me and keep me reading? Yes, it does, and that’s a good thing.
Sometimes we let ourselves get bogged down in the details of writing and publishing, forgetting why we started the journey. Telling stories. Communicating. Sharing information. Making connections.
So today, I want you to think of the overall health of your story. Look at the big picture. Take a holistic approach to your writing and see if you can’t make the overall story better.