Friday, November 02, 2007

Guess Again...and again...


As I have now hit the 30k mark (slightly over it!) in the new book, I am reaching that terrible Second Guess point. The point where everything I've written feels like crap, where I'm convinced I've blown my wad early and given too much info on some thing, but not enough on others (I still haven't explained why a particular entity is in charge in this world, because I thought it made sense to wait, but now I'm wondering if people won't have given up at this point, but it's not like it's really important to the story, blah blah blah), and my characters are dull, and why would anyone want to read this shit, and since I don't have any guarantee the book will even sell or go anywhere why am I wasting my time, etc.

I honestly believe this is where people give up.

I'm not giving up. Because I know myself and my insecurities. I know that when the book is done I'll be pleased with it. My cp says it's awesome and that's enough for me. I want to finish it.

But if I didn't know this about myself...if this was my first real attempt...I could see giving up, and deciding to try something else. And falling into that trap. Because the 30k curse will hit with the next book too, and the next, and the next. Until all I have is a huge stack of unfinished ms and nothing else.

I see the second guessing a lot online, too. People constantly asking for advice on what their people should do next. How should they kiss? Is it okay if they do this or that? What about if they do that? Would that be good? And I just want to bury my head in my hands because if you are trying to write a book based on what other people tell you to do, it's not going to work. I mean, okay, in my opinion it won't work. I suppose it's possible half the books out there were written by people who constantly called their friends to ask what should happen next or if Scene X would be okay here or there.

This is my story. I know what it is. I know most of what happens (this is actually one of the only, if not the only, books I've written where so much of it is in my head. I don't know exactly how it ends but I have a good idea, and I know almost everything that leads up to it, which is very rare for me as I'm a pantser.) And it's because I know what happens later ad who these people are that I'm the one who can write it and make those kinds of decisions. The sooner you learn to stop replying on others, the better your work will be.

I'm trying something new, inspired by Caitlin Kittredge: metrics, a little chart for my books. Hopefully it will be fun.

Unholy Ghosts

New Words: 2,620
Total wordcount: 31,122
The Good: A faintly sweet “getting to know you” moment
The Bad: Evil ghost stalking Chess in a dark house while a family sleeps
The Gross: Mutilated corpse’s heart beats
The rampant drug use: Snorting crushed amphetamine pills off a hairpin in a church stairway
Location: Abandoned haunted airport
Downspeech:“What you see, ladybird? You think witchy?”
I Hate My Work: I don’t think the scary scene is as scary as it should be. I think it’s stupid and pointless.



“What you see, ladybird? You think witchy?”

That line alone has charmed me.

My philosophy: Forge ahead until you reach the end. Typing that last line of the first whole draft is like mainlining happy drugs, dramatically improving one's outlook. That's when I go back and reposition things and fill in holes (of which there are typically many), when I can see all of them at once and how they affect the story as a whole.

I might have to do half a dozen drafts, but that's still quicker for me than agonizing over getting every word "just right" the first time around.

Robyn said...

The 30K curse. It has a name now! I'm with Kerry; sometimes you have to give yourself permission to write crap just to get it done. Revise later.

December/Stacia said...

Thanks, Kerry! I love my Downspeak. Writing it is the most fun ever. (The characters--most of them--live in Downside, hence the name.)
I know, I keep plugging plugging...but I wish I could just get past all this stuff and get to the end, lol!

Yep, it's the 30k curse indeed. I just crossed 32, so I'm hoping to press on and see where we are end of next week. Of course I also have edits to do, bleah.

Sam said...

Is the 30k sort of like the 7 yr? itch in marriage?

I thought I'd be doing NanoWrimo, but it's vacation and my kids took over the computer.

BernardL said...

I agree with you. Writing by committee dilutes the passion writing creates.

Gabriele C. said...

Since I write out of order, I don't get the 30K itch. Though of course, I have days where I think my writing sucks and I should go and flip burgers at MacDonalds. :)

I ask for feedback sometimes, but I think it's usually very to the point problems. And that one long discussion about genre definitions of Historical Fantasy, Alternate History, Deviant History and whatever in an attempt to nail history based Sword and Sorcery with magic stones.

Charles Gramlich said...

Doubt is a writer's frequent companion. At least it is for me.

Serena Joy said...

I think all writers feel that way at least twice a week. Don't give in to it!

Wylie Kinson said...

I have the 27,000 word curse. Does that work?

Hiya December. I'm Wylie and our paths seem to cross in this small land of Blog, so I thought I'd pop in to say hello.

Congrats on your EC release and selling Day of the Dead :D

Camille Alexa said...

I see the second guessing a lot online, too. People constantly asking for advice on what their people should do next. How should they kiss? Is it okay if they do this or that?

O my. Do people actually do that???

I've never seen that. I definitely understand the 30k wall (though for me, it's actually something more like a 27.5k wall OR a 41k wall). But it has never even occurred to me to ask someone else what my characters should/would/could do.

I might ask the characters themselves, or my dogs, or the bottle of Single Malt in my hand, but not other people!

I'm suitably horrified.

December/Stacia said...

Actually, Sam, I think that's exactly what it's like, lol. You start to doubt the whole thing and get bored and sick of it and want something new and exciting.

Exactly, Bernard. Too many cooks. And you end up writing something that isn't really yours.

I think we all have days like that, Gabriele. And yes, I do send things to my CP, and ask for feedback, and if I'm stuck I might ask for a suggestion...but not a "Do you think she should this or that", you know? More like, "Would the scene work better if I added this, because it feels kind of flat to me as is".

December/Stacia said...

Groan, me too Charles. I think it's the sign of a committed writer. The only people I've ever known who loved every word they wrote as they wrote it were people who frankly weren't good writers. JME.

No, I'm not giving in, Serena! But boy I wish I culd get past it. Sigh.

Hey there Wylie, thanks for stopping by! Yes our paths they do cross, don't they? :-) And yes, the 27k word curse definitely qualifies.

Hey Caille! Glad to see you! Yep, people do actually do it, and it just makes me sad. Like I said, I'll ask my CP for advice on a specific scene if it feels like it isn't working as is, but never about what she thinks should happen later in the book.

Angie said...

We used to call it the "sagging middle" on GEnie RomEx. Sounds like the same thing. :P And yeah, sometimes the only thing you can do is bull on through and fix it later, although I think it depends what level the problem is at. If it's something at the foundation level (that is, what's happening and where the plot's actually going) then it needs to be fixed before you do anything else, or whatever you write beyond that point might well have to be completely scrapped once the problem is fixed "later," which always sucks. If you know what's going to happen, though, and it's just a matter of getting the narrative to flow or getting the dialogue to sound realistic or something like that -- just wallpaper, or even sheetrock, rather than foundation -- then yes, that's always very fixable later. [nod]

Luck! :)


Gabriele C. said...

Exactly, Stacie. Are the paragraphs too long? Not, should I have Madalric escape or not? :)

But we get the second type in FM writer's chat a lot, mostly newbies.

Rebecca said...

I remember writing my first book and being SO naively optimistic. THis is GREAT, I thought, I can really write. I'm gonna be a famous author.

10 billion rejections later - and a steep learning curve in my writing - and I think it's lucky you don't know how long a journey it is when you first start. very lucky!!!