There it is. 120-ish pages of writing, printed out and waiting to be edited. It was both cool to see it printed out, and alarmingly daunting. If I’m totally honest, it’s still sitting in the folder. I have peeked at it a couple of times, but nothing beyond that. It is intimidating.
Writing is a daunting endeavor. It is surprisingly easy to get the initial flood of words out. I’ve never had a problem writing thousands of words a day, racking up long stories was easy, even in high school, when my fiction assignments came in well over twenty pages, while my classmates were complaining at page five.
After that initial rush, however, it is a very different *ahem* story. Rereading and editing is…uncomfortable. I can see the bits that are lacking. I can see the writing that is boring. The story in my head doesn’t match what is on the page, and I’m at a loss to fix it.
This 120 pages – very loosely based on some family history – is adding an extra level of difficulty. What to keep? What to change? What to make up? What to use from actual history?
Not too long ago I finished reading Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, and it was such a beautiful book. And it was boring as all get out. Beautifully written, but the tension and stakes were so low that ultimately, I didn’t care. It is 768 pages of gorgeous writing, that I had to struggle to get through because the descriptions were so fantastic that I lost the thread of what was going on. It reminded me of my writing a lot. Beautiful descriptions, not much movement.
That’s what you call an “Oh, crap.” moment.
What I am working on right now is all movement, few descriptions. It’s hard. Hard to keep the tension up, hard to make it exciting, hard to not lapse into a description of something beautiful. Something beautiful, and ultimately boring that takes the story nowhere, or worse – derails it entirely.
That’s not to say that all beautiful description is boring, but when that is the bulk of the story, it becomes tedious. Like too much salt in the dinner, a little bit enhances the flavor. Too much, and it becomes inedible.
I’m not sure what to salt, as it were.
I’m rambling here on the blog because I’m putting off facing the stack of paper. Fortunately, rambling often provides me with a solution when I am unsure where to go. Fix the technical first – the commas, quotation marks, spelling and run-on sentences. Things that are not attached to the story, and will let me reread without being critical of plot and setting.
I know this is only of marginal interest for most folks reading, so if you stuck with it this far, Thank You. I’d love to know what fiction books you are reading right now, and what you think of the writing. And if you have a dissenting opinion of Winter’s Tale, I’d love to hear it. What books really get your brain going, make you eager to finish the story?