The lure of gold can affect our objectivity

Last Wednesday, my goat, Molly got her head stuck in the fence…not once, not twice but three times. It’s not something she normally does, but she was lured by the bright yellow flowers on the other side of the fence.  She had to have them no matter what – her immediate goal got in the way of her common sense.

I sometimes think that this is what happens with writers yearning to get their work published. We are so focussed on the ultimate goal that we can’t be objective about our work – can’t deviate from what we are doing even though there may be a better way.

Molly getting her head stuck in the fence repeatedly also made me think about the fact that making the same mistakes over and over again (and not learning from them) is something that can hold our writing back. So how do we stop ourselves from doing this?

Here’s what I do:

I make a list of all the things I need to watch out for in my next draft.

  1. Are my characters interacting with the setting or have I just put description in?
  2. Have I made my plot too complicated?
  3. Have I developed my characters enough?
  4. Have I given my supporting characters different motives and focus?
  5. Have I used repetitive language?
  6. Has my character grown and changed during the course of the story?

Molly with her rebuilt fence. Unfortunately, fixing holes in manuscripts isn't so easy.

Although I ended up with blisters and was physically tired from fixing Molly’s fence, it didn’t take a great deal of brainpower to solve the problem. All I had to do was attach finer mesh to the existing fence and use fasteners to keep it in place.


As I twisted and attached the wire, I thought about how fixing fences is much easier than fixing holes in manuscripts.

For starters, holes in manuscripts are much harder to identify. Here’s how I identify mine.

1.    Do a scene map identifying

  • Which characters are in each scene
  • The purpose of each scene
  • What my main character’s motivation in each scene is
  • Conflict in each scene
  • Whether the scene moves the story forward in the direction I want it to

2.      Once I have my scene map I compare it to my plot diagram and see where the scenes match up, and if it’s where they should.

3.      I look at turning points, the climax of the story and whether the resolution is strong enough.

4.      I look at whether I have left the appropriate clues for the reader – will they be hooked into the story all the way through?

In much the same way as the fence rebuilding, I hope to identify the holes and fill the gaps.

How do you identify holes in your story? I’d love you to share your techniques and experiences in the comments section of this post.

Happy Writing


P.S. Don’t forget to check back here for Friday Feedback and if you’d like to submit 150 words for feedback, email me Dee*at*DeeScribe*dot*com*dot*au



  1. That’s brilliant! Thank you for an excellent, useful essay.

    One of the things that helps identify those holes is sending the manuscript to friends willing to critique. Sometimes I’m too close to it to see that there’s a problem – but anyone who isn’t me can see that what I know about character/setting got mysteriously left out of the story. If I know the character too well it’s easy to forget I didn’t mention something important – and leave a reader falling through a hole going “Wow I didn’t know that…”

  2. Thanks, Lia,

    I will schedule a post specially for you and go through the process with examples:) Sounds like you are making great progress. I’m very behind with my February wordcount. Am loving Mary Buckham’s pacing course, but it’s making me work a lot harder at my writing so it’s taking a lot longer, but I think it’s getting a lot better:) My crit buddy, Alison Reynolds is doing the course too and we were talking today about how it’s the 14th February and all we have to show for it are our first 500 words…but we are pretty happy with them.

    Hope you’re reaching your February goals.


  3. Dee I love how you interpolate Molly with the blindingly obvious but often overlooked weak spots of ones manuscript and how to mend them. Isn’t it brilliant how common life problem situations can provide solutions? Perhaps I should invest in a goat. Chooks who refuse to lay and an aging collie just don’t cut the inspirational mustard I’m afraid. And I’ve always wanted one……a manuscript that shines and a goat that is. 🙂

  4. Thanks, Dimity,

    Molly is certainly an inspiration for me. She gives me some great ideas for stories and there’s nothing so calming as looking out my study window and seeing her sitting contentedly in her paddock (without her head through the fence:)

    Hope you get your goat and your shiny manuscript:)


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