February 13, 2012

Musings, OSNB

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No doubt about it, writing is hard.

First off, it’s not easy to make the time to sit down in front of the computer. Life — in the form of work commitments and family time — so often gets in the way. Yet we do it week in and week out. Why? Because we love what we do, hard or not.

Getting the characters in your head to behave on paper can be even more of a challenge. My characters, at least, have a penchant for doing exactly what they want instead of what I’d like them to do. I implore, beg, plead and sometimes resort to trickery and still they take off in their own, often unexpected direction.

But the hardest part of writing, by far, is revising.

I know, I know. Plotters will argue that having a road map before writing would eliminate the need for so much rewriting. That may well be true. Alas, I am a pantster through and through. More than half the time, I start scenes with no clear idea where they’re going. They begin as a way to work in a particular line of dialogue or funny situation.

That’s how I wrote my first manuscript — and is no doubt why it’s giving me fits in this, its fourth revision. As I go back in to beef up the “scandal at the hero’s school” conflict (completely nonexistent in the first draft), I’m finding entire scenes that no longer have a point and will have to be excised. Good scenes … funny scenes … but they just don’t fit.

You know what they say: If it does not fit, you must —

Wait a minute. How’d OJ’s lawyer get in here?

But seriously, folks: A scene that doesn’t work anymore simply must go. On Saturday, while sitting at a table in Starbucks, I ended up hacking two scenes — about 2,000 words total. Hence the “ye-ouch” in the title of this post.

It’s painful — really and truly grueling, to strip moments I love from my story … to “kill the darlings,” as it were.

But if it strengthens the story and leads to a publishing contract, I’ll get over the hurt. (Don’t tell Brad and Erin, my hero and heroine, I said this, but it’s even kind of fun to torture them a little bit.)

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