Sunday, November 28, 2010

To end, or not to end?

When is it time to end it? I don't mean, when is it the end of the book, or when have you finished your manuscript. I mean, when is it time to put the manuscript you've been diddling with away and work on something else? I'm finding myself slogging along in Book #1 because my heroine was not well formed at the outset. That is to say, she was not created with enough angst, enough crises in her life, enough personality to survive the first draft. I need to start all over. Remembering that I started this more than 10 years ago as an exercise to see if I could write a book, I am not taking this too badly. After all, I have two more books simmering away, with partial manuscripts in the computer. And I MAY pick it up again some day. It turned into quite a good learning process.

Book #2 has much more life: a more interesting main character who has enough flaws and personality quirks to get us through more pages. Cody is an accident waiting to happen, as the old saying goes. In this case, the "accidents" include at least two murders, a bit of romance, and a lot of saying nasty things to unlikeable people. Cody does all the stuff I'd do if I weren't too polite. Except for the alcoholism--that's not one of my vices, thank God.

And there's also book #3--a totally different kind of mystery, involving identity issues, "who's your daddy," and the horrible experience of becoming an adult.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In praise of praise

It's been too long since I blogged anything about my writing--or anything else, either. Chaos occasionally takes over. We have family traveling, the holidays coming (not related to family travel, actually), and all sorts of deadlines for each family member. Makes me think of that old song lyric, "Every thing runs in a circular motion, bobbing like a little boat upon the sea..." although little boats bobbing don't, as a rule, run in a circular motion. But I digress, which seems to be my pattern these days.

I've been going through my manuscript like someone reading a diary. "Oh, I remember writing that," "This part is so lame, what was I thinking," and, of course, "This is pretty darned good." Writers generally labor in solitude, so, when my critique group isn't around, I must praise myself. As long as we aren't delusional, I think we writers ought to praise ourselves. I don't mean run around the streets telling everyone what a great writer you are. I mean just read your stuff and pick out what's good. After all, if you hate your writing, how can you expect anyone else to want to read it? So praise. Take a moment out of the chaos to remember your manuscript, and to pick out the really good stuff. Let the bad stuff sit for another day. First praise, then get back to work to make the whole thing praiseworthy once you're energized by your own good reviews.