A thousand little decisions

[Another repost! This one's from 2008.]

One of the things I used to HATE was having editors ask to see a rough draft of something. I'd always warn them, It's a rough draft, it's going to suck! I'd ask if I could avoid doing this, and they would assure me that they totally were going to understand.

And without fail, I'd always get this really intense reaction of surprise and displeasure because it was a rough draft, and therefore, it sucked. (I also got really hilarious questions, like, Was I going to take care of the part that reads, "XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX FIX ME XXXXXXXXXXXXX FUCK FUCK"? No, I just figured it could go into print like that.)

Polishing is really key, and it's what separates the good stuff from the rest of it. And it is polishing--you rough out the main points, and then you go back and make it good. So people want to know why what you're giving them isn't shiny and smooth and beautiful, like the stuff you usually give them after you've had time to polish, and it just makes me want to scream. (Let's just say, when Joss Whedon let us crazy Browncoats get an advance peek at the rough cut of Serenity, and some people were like, Why does it suuuuck? Why isn't it great like his finished product always is? I really, really felt for him.) Do you pull a cake out of the oven halfway through and then complain about the texture?

Anyway, the inspiration for this rant is the movie La Femme Nikita, which I finally saw. I saw the English-language remake Point of No Return when I was in my 20s, and I totally did not understand why people were so excited by this whole Femme Nikita idea. The two movies aren't very different in their bold strokes, but it's the million differences in the way they were polished that make La Femme Nikita such a better movie, from the opening shot (four junkies walk down a nighttime street; one holds an ax, and they are dragging a fifth junkie by her feet) to the decision NOT to have the boyfriend be a complete moron.