Mystery, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, horror & YA by "Cheryl Kaye Tardif" & romance by "Cherish D'Angelo". Cheryl is represented by Trident Media Group in NY.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Writer's Conflict

A fellow writer and great friend recently told me she was "conflicted" over parts of the novel she was working on. She told me she had to work nights because some members of her family were not that supportive. I am often asked by writers, "what do I do when this happens?" I'll tell you what I told her.

If nights work best, you go for it! Whatever it takes!

If you're feeling conflicted, take the first thing, the first sign, the first bit that makes you squirm....don't try to look at the entire book....or the entire part you worked on last night. If you're conflicted over the whole novel, then go back to the beginning. Everything has its roots from the beginning.

Try to visualize it as a movie unfolding before your eyes. What do the actors do? What do they say? How do they say it?

Read each chapter thoroughly, out loud! Listen to the rhythm, the beats. When you get to the end of each chap, ask youself: Do I feel good about this chapter? Is it 'strong'?

If the answer is yes, move on to the next chap. (I even find that whispering the chap aloud helps. I don't distract myself with a loud voice. Regardless, out loud is better than simply reading it.)

If the answer is no, then re-read it aloud. You'll pause, hesitate, squirm or go "this is crap" when you reach a part that bothers you. Fix THAT part.

I always know which chapters need work when I do it this way. I hope it works for you too.

Also, if you're conflicted because you're still wondering "should I do this?" "Should I add that?" "Should I change this?" then stop!

Take a breath.

Take a piece of paper, and in 1 sentence (no more) per chapter summarize your entire story. Keep it simple! KISS! Your story is a simple story. It doesn't need to be so complicated, really. Then as you go through the para's check back. If you write something that doesn't make your 1 sentence stronger, more clear etc, that's fluff. (PS, the sentence can be a long one!)

Stick to the basics of the story, try not to get sidetracked into unimportant stuff. Everything you write from page 1 should ADD to the story, not detract from it. Everything you write should be important and should lead somewhere. Cut the fluff!

Do a "crap edit". Read a paragraph. Visualize it not there. Ask: "If I cut it, would it still work without sacrificing some valuable info?" (If yes, then cut it!)

I have learned to be very ruthless when editing my own work. I recently lost over 25 pages. You have to step aside and look at it in an unbiased, detached way.

And no matter what, stick to your deadline. Don't cave in and give up now! IT gives you a goal to shoot for, and you'll get so much more done if you have it. What's the worst thing that will happen? You'll miss the deadline.


You can do it!

Just take that breath, and look at it chapter by chapter, page by page.

Don't worry about the sighing, questioning people around you. Let them know that until you're done, your space is the "NO SIghing, NO Questioning, NO Complaining Zone!" Bribe them if you have to! Tell them you'll take them all out for dinner on your first royalty check (they don't have to know it may be $8.49!)

I hope this helps other aspiring, emerging or established writers. ~ CKT


Eileen Schuh: said...

Very interesting and helpful, Cheryl. As far as designing one's "space" in which to write, it is for me as it was for my Quest to Quit smoking--I refuse to let other people's decisions,behaviours, or opinions affect me. I quit for myself and decided I was going to take full responsibility for the success or failure of my Quest.

My writing career, too, is mine. Although I do let real life intervene and interfere with my writing, that only happens by invitation-not because someone else thinks I should be more engaged in the 'real' world.

Eileen Schuh, Canadian Author

Cheryl Tardif said...

This is a great attitude to have, Eileen. I admire your strength. Congrats on quitting smoking and I wish you huge writing success!