Friday, September 18, 2009

Duct Tape and Windex

Duct tape can be used for almost everything. You can make a prom dress out of it (and enter a contest), if you're a criminal you can "tie" someone up, from hands together, to affixing them to a chair, or other such things as well as slapping a piece over your hostage. You can duct tape together two seemingly unrelated parts of almost anything. Duct tape can even be used for its original intention: working on duct work! I know, that's amazing, isn't it?

Windex can clean almost anything. How about cleaning your stove top? Or the counter tops in the kitchen? Yep, Windex can do the job. How about cleaning windows in the car? Cleaning the refrigerator? You can even use it, too, for its original intention: cleaning windows or mirrors.

When working on a novel or article, we often use duct tape to tie together two parts of the story that don't fit, kinda like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. And if we spray a little Windex in, we're hoping we can slide that reluctant square into the round hole.

But it doesn't work, does it? If you reread your story at the point where you applied duct tape, it becomes patently obvious that we didn't take the time to really revise right, instead of giving up and saying that it won't matter. Believe you me, if you can see this flaw in your writing, others will, too, so it behooves the writer to fix the problem with the right words, instead of trying to force something to work.

Writers also try and use Windex to clean up a problem area. Again, it is the lazy writer who does this to their own peril. Just like with the duct tape fix, savvy writers can spot the problem area in a second.

I know it is easy to want to use the duct tape or Windex solution in "fix" something in our writing, but we should really resist that, and take the time and effort to fix the problems with that section of your writing instead of hoping no one else sees the problem, too.

Toss out that duct tape and Windex...ah, unless you're using them for duct work and cleaning windows!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

What a great way to illustrate your point,Katie. Images are just so good! Really, you're talking about one aspect of editing, huh? And if people want to know more about how to submit really professional work, they may want to look up

And happy birthday.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

storylady said...

Katie. Good blog, I like the comparisons. Piecing together doesn't always work. Problem is like with duct tape, you can tell it was pieced together.
Enjoy your birthday with family and friends. You can have your cake and eat it too.


lynnmosher said...

Great post! Loved it also! Hope you have a great birthday! May the Lord bring you a year filled with blessings!


Paige Ryter said...

So true! And did you know duct tape comes in cool colors now, too? It can fix ANYTHING!!!

unwriter said...

Happy Birthday and no duct tape in this comment. However, to see some real original uses of duct tape, watch the Red Green show.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday..may your day, and your year, be blessed

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent metaphors, Katie. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Let me guess... 38?

Have a wonderful, joyful day.

Anonymous said...

I'm so thankful for my editor / proofreaders. Without them, I would have so much duct tape on my stories nobody would want to read them.

Stephen Tremp

Donna McDine said...

Humorous post and direct at the same time. Terrific! Happy Birthday!


Jan Verhoeff said...

It's strange, I arrived home and there's a piece of duct tape on the back door holding the window in, and a note from the neighbor... Seems a car behind us exploded and broke my back window. The neighbor was kind enough to fix it with some duct tape and a piece of ill fitting glass - until I got home to get the right glass and call a glass repair person - bring on the windex!!!

Happy Birthday, Katie!!! It's all worth it, every single year and all those gray hairs - er... rather Miss Clairol Visits.

Make it another fantastic year!!!


Deb Hockenberry said...

Hi Katie,
This was a great post using imagery as a good example! Happy birthday & many more!
Deb :-)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I was curious. I came. I read. I think you are so smart, Katie. Thanks for the great post.


Lin said...

And duct tape is the very devil to remove! Don't want to back out a lot of writing too. BTW haope you had a happy birthday!

danceluvr said...

Happy birthday, Katie!

BTW, I see you and your publisher will be at the online Muse conference in October. I'll see you there!

Darcía Helle said...

I love the duct tape/Windex comparison! What a creative and unique viewpoint!