Friday, February 2, 2007

A good day writing

As writers, we love those ‘ah-ha’ moments. We call them epiphanies. Big word, bugger to spell – I always get it wrong on the first try! As writers, we weave the ‘ah-ha’ moments in for our readers: characters learning something new on page, discovering a breakthrough in their own personality, or the unfolding of the plot.

However . . . if we are very lucky, sometimes the epiphany belongs to the writer.

Today was a good writing day. I, actually, should say an excellent writing day as the epiphany was mine. For months I’ve been honing the skill of front-loading the suspense in my under construction manuscript. The first three chapters have been written no less than 12 times! Oh, how I wish I was teasing. 12 times through the first 70 or so pages. At times, I despise these characters and want them to die an ugly death, just so I’m not forced to type their names again. (For those who aren’t writers, it’s okay. I don’t really intend to kill my characters—unless the plot demands it!)

When the pages run together, I remember Ernest Hemingway’s comments about the ending of The Old Man and The Sea. He admitted he’d written the ending 38 times. He said that was what it took to ‘get it right’.

Since our readers expect us to get it right, my 12 times through those first pages doesn’t seem so much trouble. So again, I worked on the suspense element.

I’ve managed to tease the edge of the suspense, but that has been the limit of my success. With the need to weave in believable sexual tension, accurate blocking, the tendrils of the basic plot, catchy and ‘spot-on’ dialogue, and develop likeable characters, I simply couldn’t get enough suspense on the page.

Then today, it worked.

The spider web actually wove today. In brilliant display, I captured the suspense. It was wonderful, fun writing!

Some days, this is a great job!

Here’s hoping all my writing friends are having epiphanies of their own.


L.A. Mitchell said...

I had a minor one Thursday. Still waiting for it to resurface with the same zest.

Can't wait to see what's coming from you down the road.

Shannon Canard said...

I really enjoy those "ah ha!" moments. They make me feel like I know what I'm doing, if only briefly.

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