Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have To Write Crap

Note that I said "write." I didn't say "publish." It's an important distinction.

Last week was brutal for working on The Case of the Lost Werewolf Puppy. I hit, not really a block, but a very hard section to write. Since I am writing about a warlock who does ritual magic, I thought it might be a good idea to actually write a ritual.

If I'd known what I was setting myself up for, I might have written a series about a vampire and, I don't know, a zombie, maybe.

I was trying for something realistic. Not that the ritual had to work, but I wanted it to sound like it could work. So I did a lot of research on ritual magic, materials, circles and the like. Research was easy. I found herbs and some chants that seemed to fit. I figured it would be easy to pull all that together into a cool-sounding ritual.

Was I ever wrong!

It turned out to be the hardest 1200 words I've ever written. The set-up was easy: getting the space ready, giving Dafydd a bath to purify him, locking up the ferrets so they couldn't get in the way. No problem.

But actually writing the steps to the ritual? Wow! It took me three days to write, and I'll be honest. It's horrible. No one will ever see that draft.

It's okay. I can go back later and rewrite and make it work. But to get to the rewrite stage, first I had to write it. And some authors never get that.

It's possible to psych yourself completely out of writing by worrying about the first draft. "Does it sound okay?" "Do I repeat words?" "Does it flow?"

None of that matters the first time around. Just get down a rough concept. I'm not even sure my tenses are straight in that scene. For some reason, I kept trying to write in present tense, and I'm not sure I caught all the times I slipped. I'll fix it in rewrite. By the time it's done, it'll be cool.

Which is the lesson today. Sometimes you just have to write crap that you can go back and rewrite into roses.

And now, thankfully, I'm back to writing good Paul/Dafydd action. No, not that kind of action, you dirty-minded reader. They're off in search of some dead bodies.

Anyone else want to share how you got past a tough scene (or scenes)?

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