Looking back over the last 6 months I am almost surprised I’ve made it thus far. Other than the personal challenge of fitting writing into a fairly busy life, the writing itself has posed many challenge. These are the things I’ve found hardest in writing the first draft of TIGER EYE:
– How much to tell? When I first started writing this novel I thought I had to detail every moment of my character’s life, from what she had for breakfast to how long it took to ride an elevator. I figured out this wasn’t exactly the way to go during an email conversation with Diana Peterfreund. We were discussing scene breaks (the fact that I didn’t have any) and she mentioned that she never writes scenes in elevators unless there was a fire in the elevator or someone was stuck there. This is when it occurred to me that something was wrong, very wrong. In my first three chapters I had THREE scenes taking place in elevators. THREE.
Lesson number one: If it’s not significant to your plot or it doesn’t reveal character there is no reason for it to exist. And stay away from elevators.
– Getting places. This one is linked to the above. When I began this book I had no idea how to get someone from one place to another. The simple act of crossing a room seemed like a feat of mammoth proportions. Just as I would write way too many scenes in elevators, I would also spend pages describing how my character walked down the street or took a bus trip or even just crossed the room. The advice that helped me most with this one was:
Lesson number two: Get in late, get out early.
– Boring scenes. Sometimes while I’m writing I’ll come to a scene that I just don’t want to write. I look at that scene and sigh with boredom. I procrastinate and read blogs and think about the shiny, shiny scenes coming up that I can write if I just get through this one. I know it needs to be there because I planned it so. It must be useful, right? Maybe. One thing I’ve learnt (learned) is that if I don’t want to write a scene there is something already wrong with it. Either it doesn’t need to be there or I need to beef if up with some good healthy conflict/kissing/explosions/cute animals.
Lesson number three: Every scene needs conflict. Trust your instincts – if you don’t want to write it, no one will want to read it.
So those are some of the big challenges I’ve faced with my first draft. Undoubtedly there will be many more as I come to my revisions.
And here, my Frangipani Christmas Tree, all healthy and repotted:
In other news, hubby has a craving for burgers. Looks like I may not have to cook tonight, which is nice 🙂