Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Friday, March 19, 2010

Intestinal Fortitude

I was reading Sol Stein's 'Stein on Writing' yesterday. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny early spring day and I took the book out into the yard to read for a bit. I read a few chapters, then got to the one about suspense. In it, Stein challnges an author to find the weakest scene in his or her novel, and eliminate it. "It takes guts," he writes, "but do it!"

I did it. There's a scene in The Rise of Umbra that has been bothering me for a while now, and I just grabbed up the closest thing to hand -- an orange mini-highlighter -- and drew a big 'X' through most of the chapter. It was painful, terrifying, and wonderful all in one. But I couldn't heal the patient without cutting him open, so to speak. It's left dangling a bit of continuity, but that can be fairly easily rectified. It's like knocking down a bridge between Town A and Town B. Now I have to find another route to Town B. I have some ideas.

I later received an e-mail from a writer friend who had finished reading this early draft, and he offered some suggestions for improving the chapter I had just carved out. I'll look into that in greater detail, hopefully at some time today.

In the meantime, I need to spend half an hour writing on my short story. Ass In Chair must go into effect, no matter how tired I feel this morning. When I write, I can talk about the process of writing. When I don't, I can't, and that means meaningless blather in here. No one wants that.

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