Thursday, April 08, 2010

I'm writing like a teenage driver...

I just recently let my seventeen year old niece drive me to the beach. She’s actually a very good driver, but it just reminded me about the one mistake that new drivers (and sometimes bad drivers) make. That hitchy start and stop motion. Gas, break. Gas, break. You know what I’m talking about?

And I realized it’s sort of like my writing these days. I start and then I hit a wall - usually an historical fact that I need to know - and it stops. I find the information I need and it starts up again. But then I wonder where I’m going with the end of the chapter and bam - I slam on the breaks.

This freakin’ book! I can’t seem to build any momentum. I know the opening so well in my head but still I’m struggling at twenty pages when I should be at hundred by now.

I’m like a bad driver. Or a bad writer. I can’t seem to find that easy start up where I coast along and slowly break toward the end of the chapter. Instead it’s hitchy. Which I can only imagine how that’s translating on the paper.

I’ve tried that technique where if you don’t know a particular fact you just put ( ) or ??? and move on figuring you’ll find it later. Doesn’t work for me. I can’t move on until I know I’ve found the answer. Which might lead you to ask… why are you writing historical?

Good question. But it’s not like I really have all that much control over these stories. They just come.

Anyway – that’s my writing rant. In other news I now have a picture to go with my profile. Be warned – this is not what I look like. It’s really the best version of me. So if you see someone at say Nationals that looks like this picture but only chubbier with baggier eyes… that’s probably me. If you’re not sure call out “Steph” – if I turn around that’s definitely me. If the person instead looks at you funny, then turn your ahead away and pretend to look around for the person who just shouted.

Also Suspect Lover (see cover below on loopy thing) was nominated for best series cover of 2009 by Cover Café. The cover will be here: www.covercafe.com at the end of April and voting begins April 28th. Of course I take absolutely no credit for this. All props go to the amazing art department at Harlequin. But I do think this scene was actually one I submitted which never happens… so that’s cool.

10 comments:

Molly O'Keefe said...

I honestly think the only way to get that scene in your head to match up to what's on paper (which is clearly f#*king you up - the pressure of geting it right) is to just write and I don't mean it in a you can fix it later kind of way, but when you start and stop, half your head is still outside your book. Having pulled a fifty page weekend, I can tell you yes, what I wrote is a mess but it matches what's in my head because I was totally in the world and for a weekend it was real to me. totally miraculous.

Molly O'Keefe said...

And I think to some extent Maureen would agree with me - I think she wishes she had more time with these books to clean things up and make them really sparkly - but because she was in the world of her books, the world is totally seamless.

Karen W said...

Steph - again you just named my problem with my current WIP. I'm only 120 pages in and I've been working on it since what, January? February? I should be freakin' finished by now.

And I can't even blame it on facts.

What I usually do - and it does work - so why haven't I tried it this time - is write in the first person POV to get totally inside the scene. Then later I go back and change it to third person POV. I saw this in a Suzanne Brockman workshop at Nationals one year.

Try that. Let me know if it helps.

Sinead M said...

Historicals are tough, because getting that one fact wrong can have ramifications throughout the book, or the research can lead you down a really interesting path that can enhance your story.

But I agree with Molly, getting that first draft on paper in a seamless manner is so important, even if you have to scrap some of the work.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Well - I'm taking a vacation/writing day tomorrow.

I think you're right. I'm so concerned with all the pieces that it's holding me up. I just need to live in that world and write it all out.

50 pages or bust by this Sunday!!!

Eileen said...

Ooh, I hate that herky jerky feeling. It might not be as bad as you think, though. Sometimes you just have to put the neck brace on and ride with it. I hope you have a fabulous writing day tomorrow that smooths things out!

Love the profile pic, BTW!

J.K. Coi said...

I feel the same way about the book I'm working on now. I can't seem to find a groove because of the starting and stopping--and I also agree with Molly that I just have to put myself in the world completely and WRITE it. It'll be a mess (and I HATE that) but at least it will be down on paper and can be fiddled with later.

Now, the practical application of this good advice...anyone want to help me with that?

Maureen McGowan said...

I've had starts like that, too. It's hard. But push through!

When I read the title of your post, I thought we'd hear you were speeding through this book and careening into the occasional parked car -- writing with abandon. LOL I guess I was thinking of some teenaged boys I knew...

Profile pic -- awesome.

And how fun about the cover competition! You'll have to remind us when it goes up so we can all vote.

Eileen said...

Not funny, Maureen. I just told my 17-year-old he could take the new car on a camping trip with friends this weekend.

Maureen McGowan said...

Some teenaged boy drivers, Eileen. Just some. :)

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