Devil in the details, Deus Ex Machina

Baby_Tasmanian_DevilIt’s little things. The day to day minutia that catches us and pulls us down. Little parts break down, the machine stops running. The devil in the details, that’s what we say. Its true, if you ignore the little things you get pitchforked right between the cheeks. Its that way in life, its that way in writing. You can’t ignore the¬†smallness or the big picture get’s lost.

On the opposite tip, you can’t stop envisioning the machine you want to build. All those parts you use to create with make a greater collective. That big thing is why you bother with the little things. If you want to build a successful life, you need to the little things like consideration, kindness, compassion, and effort. You can’t get bogged down with keeping score or you lose the goal.

The devil is in the detail of your manuscript. So much time is used in fixing small things, like deleting adverbs, dialog tags, passive voice, proper punctuation, acceptable grammar, filler words. If you lose sight of the overall picture that’s a problem. You may follow these fixes down a rabbit hole and lose the voice of the narrative by removing too much.

The bigger picture can get too big if that’s your only focus. The small stuff that needs taken care of is neglected as you move towards the big thing. By focusing solely on that grand scheme you lose the foundation that you need to build it on. You end up with sloppy and precarious structure. It will collapse on its self and you will need a Deus ex Machina to save it.

That tension between finessing the details into supporting a greater machine is what turns craft into art. A delicate balance needs to be in place. Too much focus on the chasing the Devil you lose sight of God. Too much focus on God you lose sight of the Devil in your foundation and your machine collapses. You need to keep an eye on both and your writing will be better for it. The Devil’s in your details to keep God in the Machine. Grab that Devil by the tail because no one wants a Deus ex Machina.

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