The hardest part of writing is choosing which words to write down, and which ones to leave out.
I’ve just completed draft one of my best piece of writing to date, and the longest work I’ve ever written, with the most intricate world and plot that I’ve ever written. (You can’t see it but I’m jumping around and screaming things like “whoop whoop whoop!” and “yeeeehawwww!”)
The process on this one was strange. A year ago, I started merging a number of short story ideas that just weren’t working out as short stories into one big idea for a novel. I watched a show on Peru and these hidden tunnels and magical mysteries, and I added it to my synopsis. Then, I fleshed out the characters and a whole whack of their histories. I wrote pages upon pages of information about their world. Then, I never touched it again.
In November, I was missing writing. I hadn’t in some time. I’d focused on painting for the past year. I sat down and let my mind wander. I wrote a captivating scene, though I didn’t know where it would go or what it would be. Then, I never touched it again.
Until January. I swore I would start following a schedule for writing, and that I would write a middle grade novel. Enough WANTING … it was time for DOING. So I did.
I stole pieces from the original plan. I threw it into the scene I’d written in November. I found a way to make them work together. Then, I ripped it apart and rewrote the hell out of it. After about five chapters, I finally had some vision of where it was really going. I planned and plotted. I revised. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I ripped it apart again. I revised. I wrote and wrote and wrote.
The words come easily. I am not a long winded fiction writer, so I’m not sure how YA or adult novelists do it. I’m hoping that this means I’ve selected the right words. But that’s the trouble.
As writers, we know our characters and settings inside and out. My characters aren’t characters – they’re living, breathing people. They cost me a fortune in groceries and always leave the toilet seat up. Steph doesn’t believe me that it’s not me! Anyway. I know all about their sordid pasts and wants and desires. I know what makes them tick and their faces in every possible situation. So what do I tell, and what do I leave out?
That is what haunts me now as I proudly sit and say that I’ve completed draft one. I wonder, “Should I add a scene to bulk up antagonists appearance, or leave antagonist as a big idea as EVIL and DARKNESS in EVERYONE?” I swear I’ll do it, but when I read I think, “No, it is perfect as it is. If I change this, the story will be lost.” Then I walk away and sit on the couch and think, “No, maybe I do need to change X.” So I go to make the revision, and find that it isn’t necessary … it would just be adding words. But then in my mind, I think, “BUT THEY NEED TO KNOW THIS” and then I sit down and say, “But it’s okay, they don’t need to know it, they can infer it from X and Y and Z situations.” I worry constantly over whether I am being explicit or vague enough.
It’s a constant battle. It’s the hardest part of writing. Don’t you think?