Cabbages and Kings

A diary by the authors of the Louis Kincaid series

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Location: Fort Lauderdale/Elk Rapids, Florida and Michigan, United States

We are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Louis Kincaid series and other stand alone thrillers. We have taught writing at major conferences for ten years.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

In celebration of four good paragraphs

I'm sorry. Please, indulge me.

It has been a bad writing week. I read over the last chapter I wrote, which took me five days to complete. It is pedestrian, banal, mundane. The best thing I can say about it is that it got the job done. It advanced the plot.

But tonight. Tonight, I started a new chapter and I wrote four paragraphs that I know are really, really good. Spare, simple, evocative.

This does not happen very often. As you well know. We fret every word, every paragraph, hoping the parts come together. We live in terror that the whole will not hold.

Very soon, I start rewrites and I don't know if the 100,000 words I have put on disk so far are good, bad or indifferent. I have lost a sense of things and am now running on total faith. It's enough to make you Catholic.

But those four paragraphs. That is enough to sustain me.

This is why we do this. No?


Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

When you know the writing is working is the sweetest time of all.

But I find those rare moments are closely followed by paranoia, as I wonder if my radar has stopped working and I'm deluding myself into thinking that what sucks is actually very good.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Toni McGee Causey said...

Absolutely. I'm in the editing phase of my book, which I'll turn in next week and then it'll go to copy editing, and I'm still sweating a few places where I know I want to nail it just exactly right. There is one spot in the book which had always felt a half bubble off center, and it bothered the hell out of me. I sweated over that one section for a week (which is crazy, I suppose, because I am also supposed to be writing book 2), but it wasn't working and I couldn't let it go. Finally, had an epiphany, deleted a bunch of stuff, and added about three or four paragraphs which worked so much better, they illuminated something about one of my main charactes which just delighted me... and now gives me something much better to work with during the writing of book 2. I don't know if anyone else will ever notice that section or care, but I felt like the ant who finally knocked down that damned rubber tree plant. It's an extremely satisfying feeling.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Bernita said...

This imitation of the divine? We look upon it and it is good?
Oh yes.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Ah, well, thy name is writer. Or perhaps, riter.

That self-doubt thing. Killer, ey?

Just finished the rewrite on a novel and feel unsatisfied. Don't know why. Too short? Not good enough? Unsatisfactory ending? Tired from other things?

Don't know. Will put it aside for a bit until I can clear my head and read it with fresher eyes and brain cells. Might be just fine.

Best of everything with it.

Mark Terry

7:37 AM  
Anonymous J. Carson Black said...

When you write great stuff and you know it, it's your reward. I love that so much. I'm afraid I can't wait and I have to send the rough draft of the scene via email to a couple of friends. These are two friends who are also writers and who understand my need to show the thing off. And they always say how great it is, even if the scene is out of context and they don't know what's in the rest of the book. They know they're supposed to love that one scene at this particular juncture.

Instand gratification. You know how it is, when you're bouncing off the walls and you just have to share.

Re. the rest of our books--the stuff we're not wild about---all I can say is: Thanks heaven for rewrites!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Keep the faith, Kris. We all have those weeks, months, years, where we feel that everything going on the page is absolute uninspired rubbish. Then, magically, comes the runner's "high," the pool player's "dead stroke," the tennis star's "zone." Magically, our muse steps in and we are redeemed.

Yes, that's what we live for.

Everything else is just a bonus.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the best way to describe this is with golf. I dabble, but I mostly like to go to the driving range. The majority of my hits are average or downright sloppy but every once in a while you get that one hit where the ball nails the sweet spot and you can feel it all the way through your body. You spend the rest of your days chasing that feeling. The same thing goes for writing.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous strugglingwriter said...

I actually had this same experience this weekend. I had been in a writing rut and didn't particularly liked anything I was doing. Then the self-doubt crept in. Luckily, I had a contest to enter and began that project this weekend. For once, I was really happy with what I had written.

After I was finished I thought the same thing. This little spurt of good writing(in my opinion) has given me enough momentum to sustain me for a while.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Stephen D. Rogers said...

My writing group is behind my output by four chapters so I get to experience those magic moments again a month after they first happen.

4:22 PM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

Thanks for all the great comments, folks. I love hearing that my own experience dovetails with other writers.

On the downside, yesterday I couldn't write shit. Actually, that is all I wrote.

This morning, I got intimate with the delete key.

11:12 AM  

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