Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"But What If..."

Tip of the Day: one of the best things you can do for yourself as a writer is believe in yourself and your work.

I don't know about you, but one of my least favorite things about writing is when I start to second guess my work. And the dreaded, "But what if..." words come out of my mouth.

"But what if..." changing my character from a boy to a girl will add more drama? Or maybe even a monkey?

"But what if..." changing the location from Southern California to Outer Space would be more interesting? Or even Alaska?

"But what if..." people don't find Balderdash interesting, maybe they should be playing Croquet instead? Battleship...? Pictureka...? Basketball...?

You get the picture.

Unlike real life, in fiction the story can go anyway you want it to and at anytime you can change that path and go in a completely different direction. And for me, personally, that can get sometimes, well, overwhelming. And then the second guessing starts.

Currently, I've spent the last week debating the pros and cons of changing the location of about five-seven chapters in my book. During this debate I've had to take into consideration what not only would be best for the story, but:
  • Which way would character motivations be clearer
  • What would benefit the plot more
  • Would the story flow better in another location
  • Which way would introduce the characters strongest
  • And which way would set up the book in the reader's mind better
That's a lot to consider. And I've tried working it both ways and I'm still at a complete loss as to which way would be better. People have often mentioned that if your gut instinct is giving you a red flag then usually there's a problem that you need to address. I agree with that...within reason.

But since I'm still working on the story, I also think when you start to second guess yourself, you're using it as a stall tactic. At least that's what happens to me: because in the last week, all I've done is rewrite scene after scene and my story has not moved forward at all. And some point (which is why I'm writing this blog), I need to suck it up, remember that my first draft always stinks, and decide to move on and readdress this debate after the entire book is written.

Because maybe both ways would work out just as well. The story wouldn't be better or worse. But just different...

--Emily, Miss Querylicious


Kate Fall said...

Oh, so true! And the worst part is that you can write it both ways and not be able to judge which way is best yourself. Sometimes it's a great thing that you can get from A to Z a few different ways, but sometimes it is a curse. (The monkey made me LOL!)

DeenaML said...

Next time we get together, we need to play board games like Balderdash!

And YES. Things can go both ways and I'm so easily convinced by my CPs that another idea is better (it sounds so good coming from their mouths).

Emily Marshall said...

Yes it is both a great thing and a curse, Kate, you are absolutely right.

And Deena, I always think that too. There's just so many ways it could go and everyone's ideas sound so good.

Emily Marshall said...

Oh and we can definitely play board games. Love them!!

Lisa Schroeder said...

It's so hard to know sometimes, isn't it? This is when I wish we had a little editor in our desk drawer that we could pull out and ask.

I changed a major plot point in my latest YA novel last week. I agonized over it, and it meant deleting a lot of pages. But it felt like the right thing. So I did it. And now I'm glad I did - I like it much better now.

And good news, I finished the thing, sent it to my agent, and she loved it. Whew!

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