Readers often don’t see the big picture when it comes to an author’s style. I know I get reviews about books I wrote long ago where the critique is honest and even true, but at the time of their reading it, I’ve gone so far from that point that it’s no longer relevant. That said, we learn as we write, and here are three things currently at the top of my learning list.
1. Your first plot choice isn’t always your best.
Sometimes it pays to rethink things. I’ve written myself into a hole more than once and realized, standing at the bottom, that I didn’t like story much, and NOT liking what you’re writing is the first step toward never finishing the tale. Soon, your brain will have moved on to other things, and you’ll find yourself with no desire to finish it.
So … before that happens, go back to the last point you DID like and start again from there. Maybe if you took the character in another, unexpected, direction, it’ll improve things.
I’ve found that writing the WRONG plot sometimes shows me the right one. Unfortunately, that does mean time spent seemingly “in waste,” but the truth is a writer never really wastes their time writing, whether the results that day are good or bad. Either direction, he or she learns something, what they want to do or what they don’t where that particular story is concerned.
2. Slow down.
Some content needs to be skipped. Others need way more time spent on them.
I am the queen of fast-paced scenes. I can get characters to do more things in a seven day time span than you’d think possible. (Insert laughter.) More times, I’ve arrived at the climax and realize I skipped content … mostly because it wasn’t exciting and I didn’t want to write it.
I’ve learned to go back, slow down, and fill in the gaps. If I write the scene that I wanted to write (the climactic moment) then it gets out of my system and I can rethink the rest. Read what you’ve written, read some more, and then reread it again is the key. I don’t believe in the whizz-fast first draft with all the errors left in. That may work for some, but it doesn’t work for me at all. I have to get the scene right or I can’t move on. I’m always thinking, if I don’t, the scenes that follow will all be off slightly.
But what works for me, may not work for others. That is fine. We are all unique individuals with unique thoughts, trying to put them on paper so that the majority of our readers with enjoy them, and that means a lot of thought-hours regarding what goes where, cutting out the rabbit trails, that don’t need to
be in the book (no matter how much you like it), and including the more “boring” content, you’d rather skip over.
Which brings me to my last point …
3. Trash it.
Some stories are simply a brain exercise and will not get published. I have some really great first chapters. Dozens and dozens of them. Frankly, I LOVE writing the first chapter. But often, it goes no further than that because the same oomph I just mentioned beneath point one often takes a hike in chapters two or three.
There isn’t anything wrong with trashing a story. If it’s not what you wanted to write, if it’s not what your readers will read (very important point), if it’s off in any way and cannot be saved, then throw it out. I recently threw out 20,000 words because the more I went on, the more I hated the story, disliked the characters, and thought the whole thing disjointed.
That is frustrating, I’ll admit. But I don’t consider my time wasted, because I know now what direction I DO want to take it and it’s a much better tale, one I can’t wait to share.
And here’s a minor thing I’ve learned … for me, as a pantser … it really is all about the writing. I’m happiest when the stories are just mine, the characters living solely in my head, and the story unfolding each day. Don’t get me wrong. I write to sell. BUT letting that story go and moving on to the next one is always a little bit of a letdown.
These books are my world, the places in them real in my head, and the joy of their existence in the private moments I spend telling the tale. I simply have to learn, from experience, how to do that correctly.
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RACIN’ HEARTS (Rodeo Girl Series) Book 3
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.
To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scw1217