Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Art and the Confidence Game

So, there I sat at the end of six weeks' labor on the second draft. 50 pages to go before I could strut, proud as a peacock, into the third draft. That's where I start to shine. But wait:

The last fifty pages didn't let me off so easily.  I found myself facing daunting problems on three fronts: back story, mystery solution and pacing. I'd wanted these pages to whip like the wind and I'd wanted to leave readers gasping for breath. I'd taken a bold tack: almost any other writer would have stretched these fifty pages into 75-100--or roughly a third of the book. But I'd wanted to capture the rush of a sting whose main hope of success is its speed.

But, as I say, there were...problems. I grew discouraged and remained so..till I devised a plan:

Though I couldn't resolve all of the challenges yet, I needed to work and make progress--or my confidence would leave me. For the first time in my writing career, I began to paste in patches of research to rewrite at the third draft: the description of a world-famous mansion...description of a nearby hotel...far more detail on a gun...At the same time, I contented myself with the best I could do right now on the more troublesome scenes. In other words, I settled for less than my best on scenes I couldn't pull off yet while giving my all to the parts I could nail.  I might not 'get' the most resistant passages until the fourth or fifth draft. Hell, maybe not till the tenth.

It's a confidence game but it's one we can win if we adapt as we go.

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