Friday, March 31, 2006

Honesty and Courage

You hear a lot about what it takes to get published. Stuff like luck, perseverance, patience, and…oh yeah, the talent to write a good book.

But what does it take to write a good book?

Two traits we tend to overlook are honesty and courage. Honesty to admit when our writing sucks and courage to hack away words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes…hell, CHAPTERS, we’ve spewed blood, sweat, and tears on. (Not to mention time we could have spent watching CSI.)

So that’s where I’m at right now. Yeah, me. The one’s who been bitching about how desperately she'd like to get this current book finished, like NOW.

The trouble is, today I toyed with entering the first two chapters in a writing contest. Oh, I know I’ve spouted off about people who enter uncompleted manuscripts in contests, but this time I couldn’t help myself. Fire and Ice is begging for chick lit entries and, well, I have one, don’t I? So, I started looking at the first 24 pages of Leftovers with an eye toward someone actually judging it.

Guess what?

It needs a MUCH better hook.

In fact, it starts in the wrong place.

At first, the realization filled me with despair. I truly hate to ditch the first chapter because a) see aforementioned blood, sweat, and tears; and b) there’s stuff in there I want the reader to know that I don’t wanna have to turn into backstory. Plus, starting with chapter two throws chapter three all out of whack.


But wait. What if…hm…let’s see…maybe I can open with chapter two and, with a little tweaking, still keep chapter three. Yeah, that could work.

Still…all those pithy lines in chapter one (sob). God, I hate to lose them. Oh, I hear ya. Never throw anything in the recycle bin. Save it to a file of “stuff to use in the future.” Yeah, I have one called “Leftover Scraps” (ha—appropriate, huh?). Problem is, I’ll never remember they’re there, let alone when to use them.

(Some would say, forget obsessing over the beginning and just finish the damn book--you can fix it later. Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, but I think the remainder of the book will go better if I’m comfortable—hell, psyched—about the opening hook.)

So this is where the honesty and courage comes in. If I’m truthful with myself (oh, the humanity) I’ll resist the temptation to believe the first chapter’s okay as is. Then I’ll dredge up that courage to open a new document and start rearranging.

Hm. And maybe the Tin Man and the Lion will show up with a brain and a heart.


Anonymous said...

Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius.

John said...

Who is this guy? Too suck on himself to be a girl.

Success is too fickle for common sense or genius. Sometimes it simply is that the bomb landed on the foxhole next to you instead of yours, or the drunk hit the car behind you instead of your car, or your date dropped his keys and was picking them up when the most gorgeous girl in all existance walked by, oggling him, and he missed it.

randy said...

Don't know who it is...and/or if it's the same commenter who didn't take kindly to my Katies post. Funny. I automatically assumed it was a guy, too. Then I slapped myself.