Are You Married to Your Writing?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Photo by vl8189 via Flickr

Warning: Cheesy comparisons ahead

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently revising the first draft of my very first novel, and I’m trying to decide what book to write next. But the idea I keep coming back to has a main character that might be hard to empathize with, and I keep questioning if there’s any point in writing it. I could easily write a book with a much friendlier, easier to connect with main character, but I can’t help but wonder if I could make this one work. I mean, if it was done well it would probably work, right?

And then last night I got to thinking so what if the character doesn’t turn out well? I don’t have to try to make every book “perfect,” and I’m allowed to experiment, especially since I’m just at the beginning of my writing career. And if I don’t like that book, I’ll write another one, and then another one after that. I’m committed to my writing and willing to keep trying in order to make it work. I remember reading that even Sarah Dessen wrote a book and gave it to her agent, but then they later pulled it out (I don’t remember if she made the decision or the agent, but even after having several published books, she still wrote one that “wasn’t good enough” for whatever reason). And that’s okay.

Anyways, I guess the point of this post is that I realized how committed I was to my writing and it was quite freeing. I’m not trembling with anxiety anymore to decide what to write next or if it will be good enough, and if it wasn’t, what would that say about me. Writing has made me embrace experimenting, be easier on myself when I make mistakes, and most importantly, be willing to try over and over.

How about you? Are you “married” to your writing—committed to making it work no matter what, or just writing as long as it stays fun? Has writing changed your approach to the way you work?

Using Your Core to Revise

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pacific Spirit
Photo by lawmurray via Flickr

First of all, Happy International Women's Day, everybody!

Onto the blog post...

I recently finished the first draft of my first novel, and I’m currently revising it, so I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the overall picture. I still need to make sure all the characters don’t sound the same when they talk, but before that I want to make sure I have its “essence” down. What’s an essence? Hmm, well, some people call it the core of the story (check out a cool post by my crit buddy, Jade, discussing the core of her newest novel where she references a blog post by Maggie Stiefvater). I like to call it: the feeling you’re left with after you close the last page of the book.

Let’s take Twilight as an example (since it’s very popular and most people know it) and use my definition on it. The book is about a girl who falls in love with a vampire, and her life is in danger during most of the book, but especially toward the end. There are some pretty violent scenes and if you go on Amazon you’ll see that the two categories the book is under is “Love & Romance” AND “Spine-Chilling Horror.” I was very surprised to see the horror category. When I closed the book I felt pretty happy—the core of the book is the romance between the two main characters.

So after reading Jade’s post, I knew I had to identify the core of my book. During revisions I would have to shift the emphasis around in the book, and I didn’t want to lose my core. After some thinking, I realized that the core of my book is all about believing in yourself. I was very happy to find this out. It also helped me decide how to tie up some of the plot threads so that I keep the emphasis on my core and I think it made the book stronger as a whole.

How about you? What is the core of your book? Do you keep it in mind while you’re writing/revising?