L: Learning To Write the Stuff You Suck at Writing

When it comes to writing, I think we all have things that we think we’re pretty good at and enjoy doing. Our comfort zone, where we would spend most of our writing hours given the choice. It’s a nice place to be, where you feel you’re competant and the words you’re putting out are weighty and valuable and good. But then there’s the other side of the coin. The stuff that you’re pretty sure you’re terrible at and hate writing.

If only we could stay away from that stuff entirely! Unfortunately, books can’t be entirely made up of worldbuilding. Or fight scenes. Or clothing descriptions. Or whatever it is that we consider ourselves good at. Sooner or later, we have to get into that stuff we hate to write, and the only way out is through.

For me, it’s pretty much any scene that requires choreography. As soon as I need to describe limbs going in different directions and multiple characters moving at once, I’m like a deer in headlights! How am I supposed to describe this person and this person! I can only write one thing happening at a time! And then you add a third person or a forth person or god forbid, a fifth person! And I’m just a mess.

lucky vincent gabriel gilbert getting to just paint all one hundred people at once! how am I supposed to describe this many??
lucky vincent gabriel gilbert getting to just paint all one thousand at once! how am I supposed to describe this many people??

But when the story requires it, I don’t have any choice but to wade in there with my galoshes and water wings and start splashing around. All that choreography isn’t going to write itself. It needs to be done. And yes, it always feels terrible and awkward and it’s impossible to imagine anyone could read it without cringing.

But there is hope! And it’s hope I cling to like driftwood in a storm whenever I have four people in the same room together doing anything but talking. It might suck now, but it won’t suck later! As I always keep repeating, your rough draft is rough. And it’s just a natural thing that some of it is going to be rougher!

Reading back through a scene is a lot easier than doing it the first time. I’ll notice all those things that are wrong with it from the point of view as a reader. Wait, where is his hand right now? Hm, she hasn’t seemed to be actually in the room for a bit, now. And adding lines in and taking them out is easy as pie!

I still sob into my cornflakes when I have to write a chereography scene, but I know all hope is not lost. This terrible abomination I’m sewing together isn’t going to lurch into an actual print copy. By the time you get your hands on it, my monster will be gone through so much plastic surgury he’ll look pretty shipshape! And keeping that in mind is the real way to teach yourself to get through your weaknesses.

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