Sunday, March 16, 2008

Writing life

For the past few days, I’ve been in this weird writing spot. The vision of the current story has shifted and wavered until I’m no longer sure where it’s going.

Personally, I love structure and word goals and regular daily writing from point A to point B all the way to the end. I’ve accepted the need for revising and polishing. However, in a perfect world I’d find the ideal words the first time through. Never happens. And, for me, trying to make it happen produces nothing but blank pages and lots of teeth gnashing.

The dismal desire for perfection is not the current problem. The current problem is the better plan syndrome. When I began the manuscript was a novella length erotic romance with a small suspense element. The little mystery’s only purpose was to underscore the lovers’ journey. As the story progressed, complications, which would strengthen the tale, began to niggle at me.

Forward progress ground to a half and I puttered about fretting for a day or two, tending to real life and thinking. Finally, I sat down and wrote a new synopsis, including the villain. At this point, I was halfway to accepting the story was going to be at least twice as long as initially planned and will require total re-plotting and fairly major revision of the first draft--which wasn’t even complete. Then further complications wriggled into my consciousness, whispering of how much better this could be…

I should never shortcut the plotting process. Always giving the story development phase its full measure of time, including letting the plan rest for at least a few days before eyeing it coldly. And certainly before investing any time in the actually writing.

When I first started writing it never occurred to me that the stories would need revision. I wrote happily from the opening hook to the mutual commitment with never a critical glance at the words on the screen. I miss that blissful ignorance. But knowledge, once acquired, can not be discarded. Awareness of story telling conventions, genre requirements, and a couple of thousand other details seeped into my mind. All of the lessons, to date, required multiple passes and a discouraging amount of pain.

One of the most important rules was the only one I knew from the start--finish every project. This was the motivation behind the new rule about never rushing the plotting stage. I have a bunch of projects in various stages of completion. All of them need to be finished. Starting with the one currently open.


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