Wednesday, October 28, 2020

It's not as easy as it looks

 I've been at this job for almost 20 years professionally, and I can't tell you how many people over the years have commented on how easy writing must be. You just sit down and write a story and voila! You're done. Nope. Not quite that simple.

Taking a story from a point of inspiration to a finished product takes lots of hours and hard work, and for the most part, I love that work. Imagine reading the same story over and over and over and over until you know every word almost by heart. By the time I've reached the end, before the editing starts, I've already read the book probably a dozen times. I read to get a "running start" on the day. I read to check for what I've already written. I read to see if it makes sense. I read to ground myself in a character. The test of whether or not I take it to market is whether, after reading it a dozen times, I'm still invested in the story. 

For the most part, I have a good handle on structure, on character goals, on motivation, on conflict, on plot. When I discover myself getting lost along the writing path, I stop to consider what I've missed. Is the story moving forward? Are the characters developing and growing along their character arc? Generally, when I get stuck, it's because I'm writing words and not writing a story. As long as I'm invested in the people I've created, I can find the story, fix it, and move ahead.

Sometimes the stories are easy to write. They flow easily (despite the inevitable muddle in the middle), although there are some that require a lot more thought and craft. So why am I writing this post today?

I've been teasing my next book for several weeks now, a book I wrote while touring canyon country. I'd set it aside after I wrote the first draft (ten years ago!) and left it there. One of my friends asks me about it every so often. She'd read it and said she really liked it. So here I am, resurrecting it. Ten years ago, my skills weren't as mature as they are now, so I've spent a large amount of time correcting "the basics." Picking up a rough copy was HARD WORK, but I persisted. The story was there, it just wasn't "clean." When I finished, I sent it to my editor, and after "sweet sixteen" books together, she sent me the first really tough comments I've ever had from her (or at least that I remember). Don't get me wrong - tough comments are good. They tell me I'm not done putting the work in. After twenty years, I've learned to put the work in during the writing process rather than trying to fix a completed project. 

So back to work, fixing the problems that remain. I'm grateful to my critique partners and my editor for sticking with me on an ugly, older, unrefined manuscript. The good news is that I'm close to a marketable product, but I'm here to tell you - this writing gig isn't as easy as it looks.

And now, in case you're looking for a Halloween treat, have I mentioned that one of my bundles is on sale through the end of the month? Four ghost stories from The Epitaph Series, the McCormick collection, are available for just $1.99. Grab it while it's hot!

Buy it here


  1. So true. To those who say, "When I have a free weekend, I'm going to write a romance novel," I say ... "Show it to me when you finish." Nobody ever has.