A reality check…and renewed hope

January 14, 2009 in Fantasy, Novel, On Writing by pacejmiller

shockToday I got a rude shock, a reality check.  I knew writing a novel would be hard.  But I didn’t expect it to be THIS hard.

No, it wasn’t anything I encountered while working on my fantasy novel.  It was something I read.

Elfwood Tutorials

I was just sorting through the various bookmarks in my writing folder, and came across a great website I had forgotten all about called Elfwood Tutorials, which has a section containing some insightful articles on writing, in particular fantasy writing.  If you are an aspiring writer (not necessarily just interested in fantasy) starting out or are unsure about whether you have what it takes, you should check it out. 

The Elfwood Tutorials site provides guidance on general writing techniques, creating characters and the developing your fantasy world.  I haven’t had a chance to go through everything yet, but I had a read of of the articles entitled “The Deception of Description” (which teaches how to effectively describe people, objects and scenes without unnecessarily dragging the pace) and “Writing Action Scenes” (which assists writers in producing fast-paced action). 

While I don’t necessarily agree with everything in those articles, they do share a stark common theme – it takes a long time, and many attempts, to get your writing right.  It doesn’t just take one re-write – it can take 5 or 6 or more – and that’s just a single paragraph or sequence!  I had thought getting the first draft completed was nearing the end, but it’s actually just the beginning.  For someone that has taken quite a while just to do 5 relatively short chapters, that seems like a crushing blow.

A ray of light

However, this discovery has also strangely given me renewed hope.  Hope that I can produce something good.  I had been reading the finished works of others thinking that they had gotten it like that or very close to it on the first try.  But I was wrong.  I had mistaken their persistence for talent.

The quality of the stuff I’ve been writing is not as good as the finished examples given in those articles, but it’s not as bad as their first couple of drafts either.  It’s given me the belief that I can continue to improve my work until it gets to the level that I am happy with.  It’s also given me a much needed boost to get a move on with my writing.  Lately I have been committing the cardinal sin of editing and writing at the same time, and it’s really slowing me down.  More importantly it has been damaging the quality of the writing. 

No more!  From this moment on I’ll put my effort into finishing that first draft.  Then I’ll start worrying about making it better.