You find this title on some DVDs extras, right? Well, I suggest you apply this to novels as well. Cheryl mentioned on her post she’ll have to delete part of her manuscript. My comment: “don’t hit “delete”. cut and paste somewhere else (a new document, a document of “deleted scenes”, whatever), you never know when you might need those words again… maybe in another story!”
I have been writing (albeit unpublished) for over 30 years. I lost a novel to a floppy disk – my best friend had a typewritten version (yes, that was the 80s! ;-)), but two chapters were completely gone. I lost scenes in rewrites that some times still haunt me – how could have I “recycled” them?
OK, sometimes I deleted something because it was bad, or unoriginal. The first draft of Air (in Italian) had Kumar climbing the tower of the sculpted palace to save the princess after introducing himself as a pilgrim, instead of the adventurer assassin he is (yes, I have a very cynical anti-hero in this novel). A second draft had a duel between him and the bad king’s man to free the princess, but it was so blatantly copied from the duels in Mira Nair’s Khamasutra – a tale of love, that I deleted that version of the scene without remorse. The first English draft was very similar to the final one, with Kumar confronting the High Priest King and his past, then taking away the princess, apparently without effort, but the point wasn’t saving the princess, it was the consequences of that action. But you never know when I might need the very first version (climbing on a tower to rescue a princess… how fairy-tale-ish is that?), so I’ll keep it for now.
I know I’ve lost a scene of a sci-fi novel where the newcomers didn’t have sunglasses and blindfolded themselves to cross a desert – which might work even better in a fantasy world where sunglasses haven’t been invented yet, but I guess I’ll have to re-imagine that scene… Well, you get the point.
The point being also that I think there are two kinds of writers: the literary writer who likes to play with words and sentences etc, and the storyteller who wants to tell a good story. In case you didn’t notice, I belong to the latter. I pour out the first draft at high speed, and then revise, rewrite, adjust, beef-up, whatever. You can’t spend your life on just one novel, or at least I can’t I have too many stories to tell!
So, to Stephen who his procrastinating his epic novel I suggest: just pour it out. It well be bloody awful, but who cares. You don’t have to show it to anyone. And at least you’ll have a base to build on the great epic you want to write. You can’t work on it forever and never get down to the actual writing. I used to just write (with the years I’ve learned to mull about it a few months before starting the actual writing, but again, a few MONTHS, not years), and trust me, all these novels badly need total rewrites. But the seed is there and I can make it grow whenever I have to time to go back to them.
I’ll end with Daniyal Mueenuddin WoW (from The Writer magazine):
(writing) feels like you have this magic drop that you put in the ground, and this plant starts growing. Then you realize it’s growing in the wrong direction. You have to hack off those branches and make it smaller, and it grows again. Then you start rediscovering things and reinserting things. It grows organically.
When I’m writing, I may be dancing along… thinking how great I am. Usually later in the day, I start realizing how bad I am. i’ll think “My God, this is never g0ing to work”. I’ll get tremendously discouraged. You just have to fight through. I’ts good or bad, it doesn’t matter… just get it done.
P.S. Go vote for Lisa K, let her little novel win!! (Or vote for her competitor, if you prefer so, just support these new writers, and they might end up supporting you!)