|Photo by JE Theriot|
First of all, I always have doubts! Every book. KILLER TAKEOUT will be my fifteenth published book and I still get stuck every time in the middle. Where is this book going??? What’s the point? Why is she doing this? Who will ever want to read this?
A few things help keep me sane in this situation. One is to keep writing. Apply butt to chair and write 1000 words a day. It also helps to write out a sentence or two the night before about what I will cover the next day. Another good tool is brainstorming with my writer friends. They are invariably generous, and fresh eyes can see paths out of my plot when I feel hopeless.
I also heard two wise quotes while I was at the New England Crime Bake in November that I plan to keep right beside my computer. The first from Elizabeth George:
“When your story stalls out on you, you’ve played your hand too soon.”
And Peter Abrahams/Spencer Quinn suggested when a writer gets stuck: "Think about the engine that drives the story."
How about you dear Reds? Do you ever have doubts when you are in the middle of the writing, or other non-writing projects? How do you get past them?
|Photo by Anokarina|
HALLIE EPHRON: I really don't want to talk about this as at this very minute I am in the pit of despond. I go into full panic mode daily. The only cure is writing. And then writing some more. And then fixing what I wrote.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Constant panic, all the time. And when I sometimes get that glimmer of...hey, this could be good! Then I freak, because maybe I am fooling myself. People say to me--how's the book going? I say--I have NO idea. And how can that be?
I think the middle is the most difficult, because it has to be riveting and fast-moving and meaningful, but it has to get seat-of-the-pants writer me to a place I don't know where is. Which is pretty funny!
I say to myself, every day: ADVANCE THE STORY. ADVANCE THE STORY.
I say: what would really happen? What would this character think? How would they feel? How would they react?
Then I say to Jonathan; I can't do this, I stink.
Then I get a good idea.
RHYS BOWEN: What a bunch of neurotics we are! I wonder if there are any writers who just churn out book after book without worrying? Nora Roberts, maybe? Danielle Steele and her stable of secretaries? Obviously James Patterson. When I finish a book I always think Ill never have another good idea ever. Then I do... So keep believing, Hallie.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Always middle-of-the-book panic. Why did I ever think this was a good idea? No one will believe this story! And then there is always the underlying panic of "What about the next book? What can I possible write about?" Really, the only time I'm not panicked is when I'm actually writing and I'm in a scene and the characters start talking to me... Sometime around mid-book I have to stop and block out the rest of the book, or I am absolutely paralyzed. I don't know how seat-of-the-pants writers like Rhys do it. Although I guess we all have to figure out the same things, we just do it by different methods.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Pit of despond here as well. I picture me and Hallie slogging together through one of Dante's less pleasant circles of hell - maybe the one with all the cold rain and mud. I complain and complain about not having any time to write because of all the other things going on in my life, and then when I do sit down to the computer with a few hours, I think, "I have nothing to say. This book sucks. Why did I think this plotline was clever? My characters are cardboard." Etc. Etc.
My one consolation is the knowledge that every other time, I've managed to finish the manuscript and it didn't turn out too badly. Insert big-ampitheater rendition of "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow" here...
What do you think Reds? Does this sound surprising? Familiar? Suggestions?