Throwing A Book Off A Snowy Cliff
I am writing my next book and I think it sucks.
I get to this point with every single book I’ve ever written.
And you know what?
It currently does suck.
If a giant ostrich swooped down and carried me off to an unknown island in the middle of the ocean where I could never edit this book again, I would call my husband and tell him to light my laptop on fire and fling it over a snowy cliff so no one could ever read it.
Some writing tips . . .
Friends, you need to be able to look at your work, your story, your beloved novel, and eviscerate it.
You need to be able to analyze your book and see where the glaring holes are and the smallest mistakes.
You need to be able to see when a character or your plot or your setting is totally lacking. In fact, all three might be lacking.
How do you know if something or someone isn’t working in your novel?
If your story doesn’t make you laugh or cry, it won’t make your audience, either.
If your story doesn’t grip you, keep you on the edge of your couch or wherever you’re writing, it won’t do that for your reader, either.
If you are not rooting for your character, your reader won’t either.
If you are not graphically seeing/hearing/tasting your book, your reader will find it bland.
If your book doesn’t read rather quickly, your reader will put it down like a hot cat.
If you think there might be a flow or an organizational problem, there is.
If you have an inkling that the dialogue is stilted or dull, it is.
If you are wondering if the back story might be slowing the story, it is.
Trust your instincts. Trust what you know about writing.
Put it down. Take a few days off. Read it again. Mistakes have a habit of jumping out at us when we get time away from them.
Here’s what I can tell you is currently wrong with my book. Check my list. You might have some of the same problems and if you do, it’s full steam ahead for you. Start cutting and deleting and editing.
You can hold a glass of wine in your hands while you’re wrestling with the problems. Go ahead. Start pouring.
My Problems In My Current Story:
There is a pacing problem. This book is not moving along quick enough.
There is not enough tension.
There are not enough descriptions of the weather, food, setting.
There are not enough scenes that will make women laugh and/or cry.
There is not enough emotion.
The flowery, colorful, eternal love that I know my protagonist shares with her husband isn’t there.
There are too many characters. One, or more, needs to be taken completely out of the book.
There is not a tight enough focus on the one topic that is central to the book.
The language isn’t elegant enough. It also isn’t tough enough.
There are repetitions.
One plot line is flat out boring and must be eliminated.
There is nothing special about the book. Where is the feature that will make it unique?
The structure needs something else, something clever, but what?
The theme isn’t coming through.
The ending is too fast.
The book is a departure from what I’ve done before. Can I carry it off?
And, very bad: The main character is not endearing/funny/interesting/desperate enough and she needs to be.
There are many more things that are wrong with this book. I want to run it over with this cool car.
Will I fix all of these problems before I send it to my agent and editor? Yes. And more. When it’s done it will be the best book that I can write at this point in my life.
It will have been edited at least 12 times.
I’ve got to stop writing this article so I can get back to work and fix this sucker, but I will offer you this piece of advice: Often, the most important key on your keyboard is the delete button.
Remember I said that.
Delete, delete, delete.
And: Write, edit, write, edit.
Now go write. (And maybe delete!)