Let's say we have a hypothetical friend who doesn't take very good care of her hypothetical car. After years of getting by on hypothetical oil and tire changes (you know, the big stuff), this friend hears a funny, rattling noise, but she ignores it. Then her hypothetical Service Engine light comes on. She checks it out, and the radiator is leaking. Uh-oh. For our friend (who isn't me because you know I would never neglect my car like this *crosses fingers behind back*), this means she is about to spend a pretty nice chunk of change on something she probably could have prevented. Even if she couldn't have prevented the problem, she could have made little changes along the way which lessened the final damage. We can learn a lot about writing from our friend's mishap.
The first lesson: When we see the first sign of trouble, we've got to change it. In one of my scripts, I realized that I've placed my main characters in the wrong setting, more specifically the wrong side of the country. I thought about changing it early on, but the rattling noise just wasn't annoying enough to move me. A few months and several hundred pages later, I sat down to revise it only to find that I HAD to change the location.
The second lesson: Procrastination is not your friend. You may have a good idea, but you'll brush it off if you don't do something with it soon. I've had the occasional brilliant idea to get a tune-up for my vehicle. Life, bills, time, and everything in between got in the way. Soon, I was sure that the only thing my car needed was an oil-change. In case you're not up on your car knowledge, if you need a tune up, an oil change just won't cut it. Same with my writing. I've thought up some pretty amazing writing ideas, but they required too much time, imagination, and tweaking to get just right. So, I let them go and replaced them with far less stellar imaginings. Letting go of a good idea is always regretable.
The third lesson: If it's worth it, it's worth it. The radiator needs to be replaced. There's no way around it. Yes, it takes a lot of money for which I had other plans. The alternative, however, is to drive around with a smoking car and dying motor. Once the motor is gone, the car stops rolling. Same with your writing. If you let the small problems multiply, if you ignore the leaks, eventually you'll lose the heart, vitality, and movement of the story. Though it seems incongruous, the story you're writing is a lot like a car. You have to care for it and watch for the leaks if you want it to keep moving.
Until the next scene,