Scenes are easy. I can imagine individual scenes without issue, from the dialogue to the setting. Mood, smells, temperature -- a scene flows in a couple hundred words, no more than two hours at the keyboard.

A chapter, however, is a little trickier. Upon the end of, say, chapter three -- complete with the "I can't put this book down just yet" hook -- chapter four looms. Generally, I find myself at a crossroads at the start of each new chapter, except the crossroad is a super-highway interchange with about twelve different possible paths. One of the best things about writing is the element of choice. Every option is mine to decide. The reverse -- I bet you saw this coming -- is also true. That many possibilities occasionally make for a difficult start. I do not get writer's block from having too few ideas, but from contemplating too many choices.

So, chapter four... do they kiss? If so, when? Before or after the surgery? How much does she admit to liking it? Her perspective or his? Do they wake up cuddling? Too cliched? But it's cold in the woods -- it could happen. Do I show the surgery? Too sloggy, slowing down the momentum? And where to fit in the backstory? It's gotta show up sometime!

The nice upshot of this is that one or two wrong choices can be corrected easily. But memories of more catastrophic journeys jostle my confidence. I've chucked countless thousands of words because, well, that line of thinking plain ole' sucked.

Do not despair, if you thought to do so. The beauty of my X word count a day system is that, by the end of this evening, I have to have a new 500 words completed. They do not have to be perfect or even good. Sometime between now and midnight, I'll have to make a choice and trust that it's workable. If not... I'll have 500 more words to add tomorrow in the hopes of making it better.


Jessica said...

I know exactly what you mean. And then occasionally the characters will go and do something that you never thought of, and it's good, and now you have to roll with it.

500 words a day? That's doable. :)

carrie_lofty said...

The 500/day is through the holidays. Full speed is 1000-1200, with my goal to finish by March 10. That's 30 days for research, 100 days for the first draft... then XX days for edits :)

Fang Bastardson said...

Have them kiss during the surgery and it's a whole different kind of book!

But seriously, in my experience, scenes are easy - it's prose that doesn't suck that's hard. Especially hard when you're married to someone who teaches composition for a living.

When the boy starts sleeping through the night and I can get back to work on my next magnum opus, that's the bridge I'll have to cross every day. So far I've circumvented it by sticking to screenplay format, but there's no more denying that that's been a cop-out to avoid my fear of prose.