Back in my early 20s, I took a girl on a date to see a movie called The Perils of Gwendoline, which looked okay in the coming attractions. “Gwendoline” was played by the young and attractive Tawny Kitaen and the film looked like a lightweight Raiders of the Lost Ark with a dash of Rocky Horror Picture Show…if you can imagine that. Okay, Perils of Gwendoline, here we go!
And we went alright: We were outta that theater 20 minutes after it started and we were not the only ones.
Was there something particularly offensive about the movie? No.
Did its production values look as if it had been shot on Super-8 film and edited with a butter knife? Not at all.
The problem was that it was uninteresting. Boring. Gwendoline failed to “hook” a significant part of the audience, who went streaming for the exits. (My apologies to the cult following that the film has since developed. Perhaps I would view the film differently today than I did back then.)
On the other hand, I was transfixed by a movie released the same year called Repo Man--a quirky indie film with a largely then-unknown cast (save for a barely-known Emilio Estevez and perhaps Harry Dean Stanton—if you were an aficionado of character actors). The plot (“Find the Chevrolet with the aliens in the trunk!”) was on the thin side. However, what it lacked in star power and plot line, it made up for with a significant quantity of interesting things that grabbed your interest and kept you interested.
(Interesting, isn’t it?)
In my last blog entry, I talked about redundancy and overwriting—using seven words to say what could be said with three or using the same sentence structures over and over. In pointing out these kinds of shortcomings in your own or another’s writing, it’s sometimes very easy to overlook what's really good about a piece of writing.
I took those redundancy examples from a manuscript that became a book called Across the Hall: Real Love the Right Way by author Monique Francisco. But far more important than being a source of such examples, Real Love is a great example of how a good story trumps any technical flaws. Francisco weaves three plot lines and takes the reader up and down the emotional roller coaster: I hissed at the “bad guy” and fell in love with the good guy(s).
Francisco might have had a few things to learn about tightening up a sentence or a paragraph (we all did at one time or another) but there was little I could tell her about how to improve her storytelling. It held my interest, without effort, and it’s not even a genre (romance) I commonly read.
Q: What can you do with a manuscript containing a perfectly-punctuated yet dull story?
A: Use it to start a fire.
The story is the most important factor.
You can always find an experienced freelance editor to correct your grammar, punctuation, etc. You can even find one to work with you on the overall flow of your story. (That’s called “content editing” or “substantive editing.”)
But the bottom line is: tell a good story and make it interesting--in your emails, your website, your blogs--all your marketing.
And if you need help achieving that, give me a call 323-646-2469 or email me.