Friday, 1 June 2012

Writing Confidence

On Wednesday I wrote a new scene for the WIP, and cut 7,000 words.  On Thursday I cut another 2,000 words and re-wrote the new scene completely.  I didn't bother to save any of the cut words, or the first version of the new scene, because I knew I had done the right thing.

Why?  Because in the first version of the scene, the main character comes in with a bit of good news, and is a bit disappointed by someone else's reaction to it.  In the new version, the main character discovers a bit of good news at the beginning of the scene, is diverted by someone's reaction to something else, which changes the good news into bad news and they make a major decision as a result.

That's what I mean by writing confidence.  It's not blind confidence in my writing, but that I can recognise  when something doesn't work, and be prepared to ditch it and start again to write it better. In the first version, nothing much happens - the good news was revealed in the previous scene, so all that is left is really a bit of disappointment.  In the second version, we see the character discovering the good news, see it turn to bad news, see the character make a major decision.

I've analysed what has happened for the purpose of this blog, but I didn't need to analyse the scenes to feel that the first version was light weight and on the following morning to know I needed to re-write.  I didn't know before I started writing that the character was going to make their decision, but I realised quite early on in the re-write that that was an option and recognised it as a good choice.

Developing your confidence in your own judgement is essential for a writer.  If you don't, a) you will always need feedback from others and b) you're at the mercy of everyone else's opinion of your work.

Peggy Ramsay, a legendary agent in the 1950s and 60s for playwrights such as Harold Pinter, Joe Orton and John Osborne, said, "If you believe you have talent, be generous with it."  In other words, trust that your talent will out, and discard anything that's less than your best because you believe better words will come.  And if you write it, they will.  Promise.

That's writing confidence.

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