Writing: The Agony and the Ecstasy

(Originally published June 6, 2008).

For me, the hardest part of writing is expanding a concept into a credible plot line, taking into account all those pesky (and often unspoken) rules of writing. The birth of THE JAGUAR LEGACY began as follows: Start with one archaeological dig — a lost city in Mexico — where occult energy triggers past life flashbacks; add one hunky archaeologist who hates the press; combine with one smart-mouthed reporter on a quest for an exposé; throw in one vengeful ex-wife and a mysterious shaman. Stir until well-mixed and stand back from the fireworks.

Almost harder than plotting is turning off my internal editor while writing the first draft. The first pitiful version of THE JAGUAR LEGACY was so flat, banal, and boring, I felt compelled to polish it. Over, and over, and over. Consequently, I fell into the novice trap of editing my first draft, chapter by chapter, as if I were submitting it to an editor. Unfortunately, none of the manuscript I had slaved so hard over survived subsequent re-writes. I won’t make that mistake again.

The fun part of writing is the editing and revision process. This is highly fortunate for me, because after each rejection and critique I received, and there were many, I performed radical or cosmetic surgery on my book. I love bringing those dry, dead scenes to life, layering in the setting, expanding the characterization, adding witty dialog, targeting all five senses, draping my characters in the appropriate clothes, etc. I could revise for days without getting bored.

I am interested in other writers’ experiences. What are the most difficult / fun parts of writing for you?