Friday, April 15, 2011

Decisions

Have you ever noticed, out in the real world, that a lot of people hate to make decisions, more so in the workforce, because what if you make the wrong decision? If you never make a decision, then you can't be held accountable, right?

I'm paralyzed by this sometimes when I'm in the depths of a book. What if I make the wrong decision? What if deciding to have the heroine confront the villain in chapter twelve leaves me stranded with no where new to take the story in chapter fifteen, and with another 100 pages still needed to write?

If I'd added another element in chapter three would I have increased the tension in chapter ten?

There's an element of humility and ego to most writers. Ego in the sense that if we didn't believe we could create a cool, interesting world populated by involving characters, then we would never start writing, but at the other end, most writers question everything they put on paper, almost from the first word.

Because a wrong decision could have me completely re-writing the second half of the book, I think pretty carefully about how I set up my books and whether or not each decision has dramatic consequences, but it never feels like enough.

Does anyone else have this problem. Can anyone write a draft without having their internal editor nagging at them all the time?

9 comments:

Eileen said...

Nope. No can do. Well, not without a lot of internal cheerleading. I try really hard these days to just get that first draft done and then start fixing stuff. Sometimes it works great. Sometimes I cut 25,000 words out of a manuscript and rewrite a buttload of scenes from other characters' POVs. It's a crap shoot.

That said, trying to decide what to have for lunch can paralyze me.

Maureen McGowan said...

This is definitely something I struggle with. I listened to a speaker who was a creative coach once and he was basically saying that every sentence, every word, is a decision and decisions cause stress...
Sometimes I can just let it go, trusting that I can fix anything in revisions, sometimes I can't.

But it is true that anything can be fixed. No decision is final.

Stephanie Doyle said...

"No decision is final..."

See that right there is what I love about writing. I'm completely decesive in my day job. I'm constantly taking in information and making quick and I hope good decisions.

Writing let's me "re-do" bad ones. Writing lets me fix what I got wrong.

It's hard I know - but when getting that story out I really don't think you can question too hard. You just have to go with it.

But then you always have the luxury of looking at that decision you made and with hind sight going back and making a better one.

You just hope it doesn't cost you 25000 words like it does for Eileen!

Sinead M said...

Anything can be fixed, but I'm so lazy that I don't want to do extra work, and just get it right the first time..

I'm lazy and whiny

Stephanie Doyle said...

Yeah but what's "right". The story is the story. If you're moving along and the heroine runs into the killer in ch10 - I really do think you're doing it for a reason. And you're going to have enough to get you through to 15 and beyond... because the story is there somewhere in your head. All the work we do about plotting is really just fleshing out the idea that's already there... no?

Karen Whiddon said...

Or... you can write yourself into a wall. Yep. Happens to me all the time.

On my book that's due in 2 weeks, I had no freakin' idea what the black moment was gonna be. Thanks to a friend, I do now, and I have to go back and seed little bits of info so it doesn't come out of nowhere.

I have a short attention span, so I often have to write scenes in bits and pieces. Also, I've got scenes I keep pushing ahead, because I have to write them, but I'm not sure where they fit. I'll have to decide that later.

Molly O'Keefe said...

see there is where it pays to be stupid like me...I don't worry so much about this stuff. I worry about it I suppose more in the brainstorming stage, but again, I'm dumb and the first idea that feels right is what I go with. And if in chapter 10 I suddenly think someone should die and it makes my book better, I never second guess that stuff - it's a gift and my job is to try and make it work. But again, my simple simple mind doesn't do much questioning.

I'm also beginning to think that "saving" something for later on in the arc or plot makes for droopy middle stuff...use it and something better will probably come later.

I'm way more decisive in writing than anywhere else in my life - considering that my life only consists of writing and raising kids - i save all my self-doubt for raising kids...

Eileen said...

LOL, Molly. I wish I could put all my indecisiveness in one basket.

Steph, I like the idea of fleshing out the idea that's already there. I'm wandering in proposal land at the moment and have a few things figured out, but something very important is eluding me (the bad guy's actual motivation). I know what he's doing, I'm just not entirely sure why and how. It's just a fleshing out!

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen - I'm in the same boat. I'm working on a second proposal idea and I know all these things except 1 very importnt thing... who the bad guy is.

And it's hard because this is for Superromance and sometimes there are no bad guys... there is just all this STUFF that happens between two people.

But I can't get over the idea that I can write a book without an actual villian.

So I'm just going to wait for him to come.... from somewhere.

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