Michelle Wittle On Reworking a Story

Michelle Wittle On, Writing Tips

For about two years, I have been off and on reworking this one story. It started out being about a page and a half long and I wrote it for my creative writing class that I was teaching. The characters had no names and there obviously wasn’t a lot of detail. Now, it is six pages long, the characters have names, and the male character even has a mother. I just have to figure out how the main character is like Holden Caulfield and go through it to fix the grammar.


I will be the first to admit that I hate grammar. I never could really grasp the concept of it and it always makes me freak out. I always think I am doing it wrong and then I get so caught up in the whole should it be present or past tense that I tend to loose my focus in the story.  You are stunned, I know. You are thinking, but Michelle you were an English teacher, how could you not love grammar? I’ll be honest with you; I should have failed grammar in college. I definitely failed the final and had to retake it. There are just too many rules for me and I get so confused. Also, I don’t really care. I mean if you use the wrong “there” in a sentence or use a contraction in a formal writing piece, I will rip off your head. But I’ll admit it, I sometimes forget about subject and verb agreement. Tenses always make me…well…tense.


For me, I get so lost in the story that I just don’t care about the grammar of it. Glaring mistakes will always take away from the story. But small mistakes, I won’t even pick up. It could be because I have that problem with automatically fixing mistakes in my head. So maybe I really do know about grammar, I just don’t know I know…you know?


That is why I need an editor. I need someone to look over my work and just fix it all for me. I am going through this story and I am getting annoyed because I don’t know if I fixed all the present tense to past. I feel like I am getting so caught up in all the rules I am forgetting the story.  So, I am saving the story and walking away from it for a bit. I want to have the story completed and ready to go forth and try to get published by the end of the week. But right now, I know I have to step away from it before I destroy it anymore.


I will go to the bookstore (the one with the good tea and eats) and just sit. Maybe I will find a comfy chair that smells a bit and settle in with a book. I did that the other day and was amazed at how much fun it can be to do. Sure, I was looking at an end cap that I really wanted to fix (it was about the lives of the Presidents and I couldn’t figure out the pattern…they had Clinton next to John Adams and two Lincoln books next to George W. Bush), but I held myself back and I just read for a while.


I’ll let you know how the story goes.


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