A few years ago I would have said that editing was the hardest part of writing. Today, however, editing is one of my favorite parts of the process because I’ve learned how to accept that a rough draft is crappy no matter what.
Accepting that fact has freed me to laugh at myself when I find typo’s in a work, and to scratch out passages that aren’t fitting right.
So, editing is not the hardest part of writing anymore. (At least for me, other writers may feel differently.)
Writing the synopsis is and always will be a freak show that makes me hide under my desk. Crunching down a novel into its bare essentials and trying to make it sound interesting at the same time feels a bit like taking a potato peeler to raw skin.
But, the synopsis only comes toward the end of the writing process. I’ve heard of people who write them first, but my endings are always up in the air when I start so that doesn’t work for me.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that my “muse” has to be present in order for me to get work done, so catering to her (I’ve always imagined her as a glittery wood sprite hiding in my plants, don’t ask me why) isn’t a part of my daily writing regime either. I put my batoosh in a chair and I start working. Sometimes she shows up. Most of the time I’m just arranging words on the page and praying they make sense.
Finding ideas isn’t hard either. Ideas are everywhere, I just have to pay attention.
So what is the hardest part of writing?
Today I’m going to say… beginnings.
Beginnings have to engage the reader and convince them to keep reading. They have to set the tone of the story, introduce the main character, hint at the main conflict – or at least a starting conflict – and avoid backstory like the plague.
Endings are hard too but beginnings are what make or break you.
And nobody can agree on how to successfully begin a story, either.
“Start in the middle of the action!”
“No! Don’t start in the middle of the action! Give us some set up so we care about who the action is happening to!”
“Do both at the same time!”
“Start where the story begins.” – AKA – No prologues, please.
Now, if you’re an author, please don’t feel discouraged. Beginnings are hard, but they are also editable. So if you begin your story and it’s not doing what you want it to, revise it on the next round.
Sedition went through five beginnings. FIVE.
Persona had three.
And right now I’m dealing with a new novel that has managed to go through two beginnings already and I only started working on it this month. (Hence the blog post about beginnings.)
So if you’re struggling with your beginning today, rest assured that you’re not the only one. We all go through it. The difference between a writer and a hobbyist is whether or not they’re willing to scratch it all and rewrite.