No One Right Way!
How many times have we heard, “that’s not the way to do it. This is how we do it.”
Growing up I thought the only way a turkey could be cooked was in a dark blue enamel “turkey pan.” My grandma did it that way, so did all my aunts and my mother. So that must be the one right, and only true way to cook a turkey. My kids dunk theirs in a turkey fryer. I roast mine in a bag. In the end, we all serve moist, succulent turkey.
Nearly every weekend at a Civil War reenactment I eat bar-b-q, because that’s always what is served. The variations are astounding. How many ways are there to cook a pig and turn it into sandwiches? Every region, of course, thinks theirs is the best. But they are all good, and no one goes off hungry.
I’ve belonged to the same book club for about 15 years. It’s the only book club I ever joined, so I guessed this was how all book clubs should be. We have eleven members. January-November everyone has a turn to suggest the book which we all read, be discussion leader, and be a hostess. In December we go out for dinner .......
Writing is like that. There are so many ways to say the same thing. That’s what takes so long, figuring out which way says it best in the voice that needs to convey it. Look at a thesaurus. See how many word choices you have to fill in one blank. Writers develop a style. Their choices will flow from that style. In fiction, there are other voices to consider. Word choices, phrase choices, even narration, must flow from a character’s consistent voice. It might be dialect, habit, attitude, age, nationality, any number of variations. There is no one right way for that to happen.
For the writer it’s a matter of writing it, reading it, hearing it, and rewriting it. This can be a lengthy process. I rewrite conversation constantly. I hear the conversations while I drive the car. I got a Dragon so I can talk to myself and record it. Either I don’t speak plainly or Dragon is a terrible speller. I spent so much time trying to figure out what I’d said I decided it wasn’t worth the time investment. I just keep hearing it and rehearing it with all the variations I can think of. An editor or critique partner might hear it differently. But, our goal is always the same. Not to find the only one right way to get it done, but the best way for that one particular sentence.
Selling the finished book also needs a variety of selling approaches and an assortment of marketing ideas. There is not one right way to sell every book.
Don’t be too quick to judge how someone gets something done. It might be a better way after all. Writing and selling books has helped me be unafraid to try new voices and new ideas in brand new places and ways and to enjoy the surprise endings.