Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Hardest Part of Writing Is...?

Often people ask me, "Gemma, what's the hardest part of writing? Is it the time, the place/setting, the worlds, the characters, the description, or the plot? Well, which is it?" The truth is it's different for everyone. So, I've dedicated this post to each aspect that I find difficult, while writing:

The Time: The time (if established) is often very simple. It could be as easy as the present day, or the 1800s. The seasons also bring with them a certain mood, as well as weather. Summer = cheerful, Spring = exciting, Fall = dark and dreary, Winter = serious and dangerous.  (Well, that's how I think of it anyway; your views may be different. :D) Often, though, the time isn't established, and therefore it's up to the readers to get a feel of when the story takes place.
          The difficult part is usually through speech. If a character says, "Hey dude, wanna catch a flick late-a?" then you can usually guess that it's in the present time. If, however, a character says, "My good lady, your beauty is as radiant as the moon's silver glow..." I think it's safe to say it's a fair bit in the past.

The Place/Setting: This is also connected with time. If it is a fantasy book, however, it's a bit more complicated. Especially if you have more than one world! Being a fantasy writer, for the most part, I like to base my worlds on the mood that I want the story to have. If it's a darker story than usually abandoned buildings and old crumbling castles fill the worlds. If it's a lighter book than beautifully described forests or steams tend to appear. The complicated books are the ones that seem to have beautiful sunny summer days, and then have a creepy fairy come along and gobble someone up! :0 So, it really depends on the type of book you're writing.

The Worlds: This is mostly for supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi writers. In a world, the first thing you need to do is describe it (as I stated above). After you know what you want your world to look/feel like, it's best to draw a map, stating the main areas your characters will venture to, or important places in the future. (Even if you are a terrible artist, you can just pin point and label places, just for your own reference.) This way you can see the world out in front of you.
          Now the next, and in my opinion, hardest part, is developing a government. It's up to you how involved the government will be--such as whether they are the main villains, or whether they aid your characters. If you have more than one world/area you must indicate whether the government rules over everything, or if there are different groups of power "scattered throughout the land."
          Then, once you decide that, you must establish where your characters are from, how that impacts their personalities and their lifestyles, and if that causes friction between them and the others. For example: If one character came from an upper class, and one came from a world where people relied on crime in order to survive, how would those characters work together, or would they work against each other?

The Characters: Your characters are most important asset to your story. They also carry the mood, and the theme throughout the pages, so it's very important that the characters can 1. Understand the character's point of view, 2. Relate to them, and 3. If they are a villain then, yes, even hate them. You really want your characters to draw the reader in, and make the story feel believeable, even if it's fictional.
          That being said, often the difficult part is really making the characters consistent throughout the story, which is, essentially, what makes them believable. It's often a good idea to do a character chart, and really outline everything about your characters: The way they walk, look, speak, dress, what they like, what they don't, their personality, the way they treat others...all of that is really important, even though it may seem like a minor detail.

Description: No one wants to read long paragraphs about what a room looks like. Really, the reader doesn't care if the pillow is bordering on chartreuse and jade, but, you did need to describe the surrounding area and the aspects in it. For example:

"The walls were blue, and vanity sat in front of a mirror. There was a candle. I sat in front of it." This is clearly rushed and therefore there is not enough description to really give the reader a feel of the room, or who it might belong to.

"The barren ice cold walls were covered in a cracking blue wallpaper that sparkled with small gems carefully inset into the silk. Each gem was different, and slightly dulling, as age had clearly worn away the delicate beauty. The only piece of furniture was a small crumbling vanity, that looked to have once belonged to a duchess...perhaps it served as a reminder to those imprisoned days... It was scattered with rose petals of black and red, the softness of their skin like the richest velvet. I carefully sat in front of the smeared and rotting mirror, charred away by time. The only light was the soft yet brilliant glow of a burning candle, wax melting down the ivory sides and dibbling onto the vanity, in small puddles that quickly swirled and hardened, forming strange shapes with a quiet sizzle. The sparkling flame guttered as I took a seat on a small yet rickety chair, that I feared would quickly rot and break..." Okay, well, first of all, there is so much drama in the way I rambled on here that I wouldn't surprised if the readers rolled their eyes as the read it. Second, the description has surpassed the needs in the reader. Sure, some phrases are very poetic, but I can save that for a different aspect, rather than the dressing room, which is only in the book for one scene.

"The bare walls were covered in cracking blue wallpaper, and only a small crumbling vanity, scattered with rose petals, sat in front of a smeared and rotting mirror. The only light was the soft glow of a burning candle, guttering as I took a seat, and waited." Seeing as this is only a briefly seen room, this is more than enough description, to explain what the room looks like. Short and simple usually surpasses long and flowery.

The Plot: Before one begins to write, but after you have all of the above pieces to your story puzzle, you must take a few moments to decide on the plot. This is the one thing I cannot help you with! :P This is your story, and you can write about whatever you want, no matter what anyone else thinks. It's up to you to decide whether or not it's difficult. But, if you really want to be a writer, you can't give up, even it seems more challenging than learning how to fly. Once you have everything in place, the rest is just writing :D

Have a good weekend everyone! 


Ms. K and her Students said...

Wow...that's all I can! You are sooooo creative, we are huge fans! :)

Susan said...

I love this post, but it was so long ago...I was hoping to hear more about your publishing adventure soon...keep going, Gemma! I'm looking forward to the release date of your novel! :)