Writing. Difficult? Sometimes. by J Vincent

The hardest part of writing isn’t research.  Research is exciting and seductive.  I’ve been searching for the location of British HQ in Spain during the latter stages of the retreat to the Lines of Torres Vedras in 1810.  Each clue I come across fires excitement.  There is much to be said for the “hunt.”

The hardest part of writing isn’t deciding the setting--the where and when.  That’s pretty well set for me with the Napoleonic Wars.  It isn’t discovering the characters.  Discovering?” you ask?  That’s what it is like a lot of the time.  I had a perfectly vile villain who now in book four I learned actually had a heart.  Characters are like friends--you never know them completely and they can surprise you.

So what is the hardest part of writing?  Well, it’s the writing.  It’s the day to day sitting at the keyboard and hoping the words flow and forcing them (or trying to) when they won’t.  That usually isn’t good writing but a book will never get written if you don’t make yourself put words down one after another.  Some times the words gush so fast my fingers can’t keep up with them.  It’s like watching a movie and being a court reporter, afraid to miss anything.  Other days it’s similar to pulling pin feathers for those of you lucky enough to have had to “dress” chickens.  I never thought that an odd term until long after I stopped doing it.

Most days it’s a matter of just doing it.  Sit down, put the hands on the keyboard, and type.  If you’ve prepared well--that is, you’ve gotten to know your characters and you’ve plotted out the story--the words will come.  Perhaps not in a gush but with a steady enough flow.  If you are a “by the seat of your pants” writer as I am, you plot out the broad parameters of the story.  No, I’m not saying you only need to know that boy meets girl or vis a versa, girl gets boy and they live happily ever after.  I plot the different twists and turns of the story, though often I don’t know exactly what my characters are going to do.  Like recalcitrant children they often do their “own” thing.  I know the broad chapters and some of the scenes but not all.  So every now and then there is a hiccup of sorts where the action stalls.  At these times I try to just push the story forward.  I have learned that if I don’t take the right direction (right according to my hero/heroine) the story goes no where.  If that happens I simply backtrack and try again.  At this point you are probably wondering why I don’t plot out the entire book, scene for scene, like some writers do.  I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work for me.  It uses up a lot of time as I throw out the outline from where my character deviated and rewrite it.  Over. And over.  Perhaps I’m just plot-challenged.  But different strokes for different folks, to use a trite, over-used expression. 

Different aspects of writing prove troublesome now and then but nothing is more rewarding than writing that final scene (there is no such thing as final in writing, only the last time--ask any writer if they won’t find something to change every time they look at one of their books!) and knowing you’ve created a story.  You’ve told a tale.  There isn’t anything better no matter what proved “difficult” on the way to The End.  
 How final is your writing?


Pat Davids said...

I agree with you, Joan, it's the writing that's the hardest part of writing. Once I have something down, I happily tweak and change and mull it around until I like it better, but no book is ever done. That's why I never read my old stuff. I'd want to change it.

Joan Vincent said...

Thanks for stopping by Pat. I think every author would say getting the words down the first time is the hardest and that nothing is ever final. If you can reread it you will rewrite something in it!

Penny Rader said...

So I'm not the only one who can fiddle around f-o-r-e-v-e-r with the words once I finally get them onto the page? It took me a while to figure out that too much fiddling can suck the life right out of the story.