Friday, May 29, 2015


by Kelly Baugh

Trust is a tricky thing. It's hard to earn and fragile to maintain. This is a fun little mantra I repeat to my children on a regular basis and hope it takes. I also have to tell myself the same thing when I write.

I'm always trying to find that fine line between telling my audience what to think and being so obscure no one has a clue what's going on. Neither extreme is good writing. I think most writers tend toward one end of the spectrum or the other.  

I'm a control freak so I like my readers to know what to think, when to think it and how long they need to keep thinking it. In my first draft, I allow myself complete dictatorial control. I am the master of this fictitious universe, after all, and I will allow myself the guilty pleasure of being empress of my domain.

But then the second draft rolls around, and the good times are over. Now I need to shut up, get my voice out of the story as much as possible and let the characters do the talking. Sometimes I don't even recognize where I'm butting in. That's when a critique group or beta reader comes in handy. They can let you know when you've switched out of your story-teller pants and into your bossy pants.

It gets a little easier each time I force myself to trust my audience, And when I'm really digging my heels in, I remember the appendix to The Sound and the Fury which Faulkner wrote 16 years after the completion of the original book. 

The first time I read this appendix, I was enraged. I think my exact thought process was, "Way to ruin the entire story, dude!" I couldn't articulate exactly why this appendix deflated the power of the book, but now I know why. It's because Faulkner evidently couldn't handle the thought that his audience might have their own imaginings of what happened after the last page. 

Control. Ruining. Everything.

So I keep that original outrage in mind as I slash and trust, slash and trust. And since it's difficult to find a picture that matches a nebulous concept like trust, please enjoy this short video of my adorable nephew rocking the trust exercise (ignore my obnoxious laughter). May it be an inspiration to us all.

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