Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Conversation with My Work-in-Progress

So I read this article on the Writer’s Digest website a couple of weeks ago about improving your writing. It was 25 tips from established writers. The first one came from David Morrell who suggested (this is me paraphrasing) that we should treat our book/WIP like a person. If we are having problems with a scene, with a passage, with a part of the plot, we should talk to the book, ask it questions. In other words, if you’re having trouble with your WIP you should just ask it: “What’s your problem?” (That’s a much less eloquent summing up of what Morrell said.) Morrell suggests that this is a “psychological trick” designed to get things moving again. Since I am having difficulty lately moving along with my WIP, I was willing to try anything. So I took a few moments and had a conversation with my WIP. A transcript follows:

Me: We are almost to the end of this draft. Why are you being so obstinate?

The Book: Because I want you to get it right.

Me: Well, dumbass, that’s what editing is for. Let’s just get through this draft. Why don’t you just let me worry about getting it right?

The Book: Because I’m nervous, okay? I could be really cool. I could be a really cool book—if you don’t f*ck it up.

Me: *rolls eyes, sighs heavily* Good Lord. I’m the writer. It’s my job to write. Without me, you’re not going to be anything at all, much less cool. I’ve done this before, you know.

The Book: Yeah, I know, but how do you know you’re doing it right?

Me: *closes eyes, shakes head* Oh. My. God. Really? You think you could be a really cool book but you’re questioning whether I’m doing it right or not—really?

The Book: *crosses arms, shoots me a wary glance* I don’t know, okay? I’m just sayin’—do you really know if you’re doing it right?

Me: *resists strong urge to shake book violently* Well, I’ve been at this awhile, haven’t I? I did manage to get an agent so surely I am doing something right. You know what, Book? I don’t even know why we’re having this discussion because there are no guarantees. You could be an absolute craptastrophe for all we know. But we’ll never find out if we don’t finish and put you out there for critique partners or beta readers. Even if you’re not a craptastrophe, there is still no guarantee that people will like you or that you’ll find an audience. Remember that whole subjectivity thing? You’re at the mercy of it and so am I.

The Book: *looking properly chastised* Okay, okay, I know. You’re right.

Me: Besides, you’re supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to be one of the fun things in my day. Sure, I enjoy hide and seek and watching endless episodes of Scooby Doo as much as the next parent of a toddler but you’re supposed to be the fun grown-up activity in my life. You’re supposed to stimulate me intellectually. I want you to stop acting all high and mighty like you could BE something and start being fun again.

The Book: *muttering under its breath* but I COULD be something . . .

Me: SHUT UP. Right now I just need you to be fun, okay? That’s what I need you to be. Can you do that? Just long enough to finish one freaking draft? Can you just do that for me?

The Book: *exhales noisily* Fine.

Me: Okay. So we’ve just got that one issue of how to get to the ending from where we are now. Why don’t you call the plot fairy and tell her to get her ass over here.

Book: *trudging off* I'll see what I can do.

Well what do you know . . . insecurity rears its ugly head once again! I see where I went wrong. I let it stop being fun. I let my inner-critic take over, steal my pen away and hide it somewhere. I am going to get it back. Soon. Maybe today.

If you had a conversation with your book or WIP, what would that sound like?

14 comments:

  1. I got a chuckle out of your 'conversation'. I'm so glad I'm done. I know what my next book will be, but I'm enjoying the break, in part because my books too are obstinate.

    Are you enjoying the Campaign?

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  2. Maybe this is what I need to do. On Friday I was cursing at the empty room and banging my head on my desk.

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  3. Oh, if only there truly was a plot fairy...

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  4. There would be a lot of "dumbass" remarks, same as you. Lol. I may have to go have "the talk" with my WIP soon. We've come to another impasse and I need to know if it's a true commitment or a summer fling. :)

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  5. That was hilarious and proof that you're still a witty writer. The conversation with MY book? It would be something like, "Yoohoo, WIP? Where are you?". (Crickets chirping.) "Hey! WTF? Why won't you come out? Why do you insist on hiding yourself?" (Continued silence.) "Okay then, fine. Suit yourself. I'll find someone else to play with." (Soft giggles rattle off the walls.) "I'm doing it...right now...you'll be sorry...this could have been you..." I sigh. Then I write the first chapter & damn if it's not sick & twisted. "See, I told you!".

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  6. LOL. That was hilarious and such a fun way to stir the creative juices. I'm going to try it. Mine would look more like, "Work with me here. Stop thinking about sex. Can't you see I need to move on to the next book now? Stop all of you talking to me at once." Sounds pretty psychotic now that I'm reading it, but I'll chuck it all up to being a writer. Thanks for sharing this. :)

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  7. Hah! Oh, this post made my day. I wish I would've read it earlier. *grins*

    Hmm, a conversation with my book? It would probably go down like this:

    Book: I'm bleeding...
    Me: That's red ink.
    Book: No shit. Why don't you clean it up?
    Me: O___O

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  8. Thanks everyone for the comments. I love reading your conversations with your books! Too funny!

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  9. I like it, I like it. Great way to loosen the brainstem and get the creative juices flowing. I'm off to query my WIP. Thanks, Lisa!

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  11. Funny! My conversation would go something like this:
    Book: OW! Stop cutting. That hurts!
    Me: Just hold still a minute...
    Book: OW!
    Me: Got it.
    Book: *whines* when will I be finished?
    Me: Soon. Hold still. I see something else.
    Book: OW!

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  12. I HAVE to try this! - With no one else within a mile of me of course! But seriously, what a great idea. And how awesome of you to share your own conversation with your book. Thanks!

    I'm a fellow campaigner in the mystery/cozy category. Sorry it's taken me so long to get over here - my last post leaned more towards fantasy/YA - that's what I'm writing at the moment. But my first book that I'm going to be querying as soon as I have a couple of beta readers go over it once more is a mystery. I'm so glad to meet you. I enjoyed reading about your book FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER. What a fascinating story line!

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  13. "SHUT UP. Right now I just need you to be fun, okay? That’s what I need you to be. Can you do that? Just long enough to finish one freaking draft? Can you just do that for me?"

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Love this! I have had this conversation before. It's so much funnier when YOU blog about it, though. :D

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  14. Ha ha this is such a clever post, I love it. I love how dramatic your book is, muttering and exhaling noisily LOL.

    I didn't know about the Writer's Digest list so that is great to know, thanks for the heads-up!

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