Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Blerg" or "Why Transitions Suck"

Three weeks.

For three weeks now, I've been wrestling with the same freakin' scene. Three weeks of writing, deleting, cutting, and pasting. Three weeks of moving the pieces around without the slightest investment in what's actually going on on the page.

It'd be easy to blame that on the fact that I'm smack in the middle of the New Book (which yes, has a title, and no, I'm not saying what it is just yet). I've often heard the middle tends to drag for writers, fresh off the flush of beginning a new book, but still a ways off from the Thrilling Conclusion. Thing is, that's never how it is for me. For me, the middle's usually pretty fun to write, because that's where you really get to pile on the conflict.

No, I think the problem is that the scene I'm writing is nothing more than a transition from where I've been to where I know I need to go. It's a checklist scene: Sam's got to get patched up after a meeting with a less-than-friendly bug-monster, he needs to boost himself a shiny new ride, and although he doesn't know it yet, he's about to pick up a very hungover complication along the way. All of that needs to happen to set up for what comes next, and all of it is proving boring as all get-out to write.

This isn't the first time this has happened to me (that would be here), and I'm not terribly worried, on account of last time it turned out fine, but still, there's no shortcut but to work at it until it clicks. (There is no shortcut, right? I mean, if you know one, and you ain't telling, that's just mean.) I've mentioned before I'm not the speediest of writers, but the flip-side is, my first drafts are pretty clean, and one reason why is I tend not to move on until the bit I'm writing works. I think I mostly do that out of the fear that if I only write the bits I'm looking forward to, I'll never go back and connect the dots into, you know, a story. (Also, I think all characters should have an emotional arc, and they get tough to keep track of when you're writing out of order, but that's a post for another time.)

Oh, and just so I don't have to keep typing "the New Book" all the time, I decree that I will heretofore refer to it by its initials: WG. Feel free to take up Blogger's bandwidth with predictions. Wizened Gefiltefish? Wonky Grandma? I'll never tell. (I think semi-anonymous commenter Josh won the guessing game for DH with his so-great-I-wish-I'd-written-it guess of Dastardly Haberdasher.)