Friday, April 11, 2008

Writing Process: To Hold or To Chuck?

Over at Murderati , the blog about crime fiction and the business of crime fiction, Brett Battles posted an interesting entry entitled "Faraway, So Close." He laments the following:

As inevitably happens every time, I’m in the final push to finish my next novel and I’m questioning the ending I had in mind.

I can relate. I mapped out my first book, Treason at Hanford, religiously, allowing little nuances to appear within scenes but sticking to the script. Period. The good thing was that I was able to write that book in eight months. For my second, it's been an exercise in change. Initially, my hero was a black, ex-con seeking redemption. Now, using the same characters and setting, it's a story about a female HPD detective seeking justice. And it's been nearly two years since I first had the idea. NOT good.

I have found myself throwing out cherished (in my head) scenes that I *thought* were important. Oddly, though, once I chucked some of these ideas overboard, the story started flowing. And the pathway of the story revealed itself.

When I wrote my Truman book, there was a scene I had in my head, fully realized. I decided not to write that scene out of order (that is, write it as soon as I 'saw' it in my head). I wanted to get there with my characters. And it was a joy when I finally did get there, six months after envisioning it. And the scene was 99% intact.

Now, I have an ending in mind for my new story. It's an ending I have had since I first conceived of these characters. I'm curious now as to whether or not that ending will actually be *the* ending. And, since I have given myself a deadline of 1 June, I'll know within two months if it stays in the story...or if I chuck it for something better.

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