If you are a writer AND you are a fan of the show “Supernatural”, you may get a lot out of this post.
If you are a writer and have no idea what “Supernatural” is, you’ll STILL get a lot out of it.
I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers and will edit dialogue when necessary to avoid them.
I love this show, have since day one. And I was just re watching the episode titled “Don’t Call Me Shurley” from Season 11. It’s actually a great depiction of the struggle that some authors and editors can have with each other. I also realized that Metatron, the editor, gives some great advice to Chuck, the writer, that all of us writers should actually consider.
Quotes and explanations to follow:
Chuck: There are chapters, it’s a loose structure, but something’s missing. I’m stuck.
This is Chuck, the author, referring to his autobiography. He wants Metatron to edit it.
Chuck: Every writer needs a good editor.
This is very true. So few of us have the skills to be both.
Metatron: Details are what make a story great. This is lacking in some details. Like all of them.
Even the simplest of writing styles need details. And show, don’t tell. There’s a big difference between “the homeless man cried” and “He cried, wiping his tears on his torn and dirty coat that he found just yesterday in a dumpster.”
Later on after finishing reading the memoir:
Metatron: I tell ya there’s some great bones in there. I’m thinking what may be missing is less about detail and more about balance. You’re giving the wrong stuff too much real estate.
Metatron advises Chuck to consider editing out unnecessary parts of his life and adding more about things readers would really care to read. A power struggle ensues. Sound familiar to anyone who’s worked with an editor or client?
Metatron: Every great hero is defined by his or her villain.
There needs to be a villain in every story. I remember first learning about writing and was told of three hero and villain archetypes: Man vs Man, Man vs God or nature, and Man vs Self. These still hold true in every fictional story I have written.
Metatron: There are two types of memoir. One is honest, the other not so much. Truth and fairy tale. Now do you want to write “Life” by Keith Richards? Or do you want to write “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by Brian Wilson?
Remember this quote if you want to write a memoir. It can be true to the core or truth mixed with fiction. Your call.
I think this next quote is perhaps the best advice to any writer.
Metatron: Hold up a mirror. Show us who you really are. Warts and all. Write for an audience of one – you.
Sometimes we writers worry so much about how our writing will be received. Will anyone like it? Will anyone read it? Write for one. Write for yourself. Let the pieces fall where they may. Besides, there’s always an editor close by to kick your ass in the right direction like Metatron.
I included a link to the performance by Rob Benedict, who plays Chuck, in this episode. I include it not for writing reasons. But it’s such a great performance that I think it deserved some real estate in this post.