09 January 2012

Working Title: Black Tendrils

I have to get back on track with my novel.

Coming up with an idea is easy. Everyone you know has an idea for a book, even your mom. Ideas are like taking a dump, effortless and satisfying. But building a story around an idea… well, that takes talent. And building a story that is well-written takes craft and skill. And effort.

Effort is hard.

Effort isn’t the little muse that pops in to give you a cool scenario or plot point. It’s not the picture in your mind’s eye of how your piece of art is going to end up. It’s the plugging and plodding away, trying to get from point A to point B and watching the characters and scenes you are writing take on a life of their own and then say to you, “fuck your idea. We don’t want to go there.”

Effort is orchestrating your story to flow properly, so that your characters come to conclusions at the right time and everything you have been building up comes together seamlessly and in the right sequence.

Effort is writing through your doubts. Even though you know that the scene you are writing is terrible, effort is finishing it anyway. It is quieting the voice in your head that wants to sabotage you so that you give up and surf the internet instead. Or try to chase another idea, because ideas are easy and they make you feel good. (Swish and flush – there goes another one!)

It is in the effort stage, where I find myself. I had my idea a while back. I have my beginning (I think) and my end (I am pretty sure) and I have most of my characters pretty-well fleshed out. I have much of my story written (very roughly). But I am having trouble with chronology and how to sequence everything. It is a story that spans generations. I am also struggling with how to format all these characters. It was in a George RR Martin-esque series of character chapters, but now I am not so sure they should share the story with my main gal. So how do I reveal their dimensions through her?

See what I mean? Effort. I don’t want to do it. But I felt the same way about Vampires Don’t Drink Wine and I finished it anyhow. So this week, I am opening my Black Tendrils file and sorting some things out. Effort is what separates the writers from the dump-takers. So I’d better get off the pot and in front of my doc file, right?

3 comments:

cath c said...

um, duh, exactly where i have been for a couple of years with my book, thanks for naming it.

although it's not for lack of trying, some days I just can't wrap my head around what changes need to happen even though I can totally see them.

I have definitely, at this point, managed to take out all references to a couple of extraneous characters that didn't serve the story and dribbled off, so a reader would ask, 'but whatever happened to Uncle Joe? I liked him. I wanted to see more of him." guess what? I did, too, but he had no business in this book. and that's the truth. pbpphpft.

9 pages to go....writing group tomorrow. there is hope.

cath c said...

ps: love the title. I'm thinking cthulu octosquid story so far....

misshum22 said...

We love a little cuthulu around here.

It isn't easy to bend a world and it's inhabitants to your will. As frustrating as it is, the good part is it makes the story more interesting (and less predictable)when the people you create go their own way.