Authors Answer 20 – Writing is Challenging

I never know how to start these stupid posts. When it comes to witty or insightful intros, I’ve long ago reached the bottom of the well. Or the spring has dried, or whatever metaphor you want to come up with.

That intro is rather apt for this week’s question, which is What element of writing (setting, characterisation, plot development, etc.) do you find most challenging?

So let’s start with the heavy stuff first. Out of the little list above, plot has always been the most difficult for me. Setting is easy enough – pick a random vaguely medieval-like world with swords and horses and peasants and a feudal system and that works well enough for me. I can work with that, and you can give it pretty much any kind of detail you want (even if I often have to be reminded to put it in there). Characters tend to write themselves, and they tend to be forceful enough that when I write something that isn’t going well, they let me know about it. (‘I’d never do that! Rewrite that section right now!’) Plot, however? I mean, what are my characters supposed to do while they’re developing that inescapable sexual tension? Sure, I’ll have a very basic idea to work from (‘acrobat guy turns out to be sorcerer and saves the country’), but a basic idea does not a plot make.

This is probably the biggest reason why I am a pantser rather than a plotter. I just start to write and blag my way through, hoping for the best. This has ended up with my first book finishing with a little bit of a deus ex machina, my second book probably being longer than it needs to be and my third book being so hard to write that it was like pulling teeth (though strangely enough many people consider it my best).

Anyway, beside that, in the ‘etc.’ category, there are two things I always, always struggle with: titles and endings. This is extremely annoying when for the longest part I wrote short stories – what the hell should I call the damn things? What’s a good sentence to end on? Is there a God of Endings that I can sacrifice something to to make this stuff easier? I’ve got nearly a full book of short stories done, ten stories at least, and one of them is currently called ‘Untitled’ and for at least three, possibly four of them I hate the title I’ve given it for now. The only title I’m fully content with so far is Forfeit.

As for my Theft and Sorcery trilogy, the only title in that I’m happy about is Theft and Sorcery. While I suppose you could call the individual book titles snappy and succinct, they’re hardly inspiring. Also, the current working title for my bundle of erotic shorts was suggested by my indispensible friend and editor Hillary, because the best I could come up with was Theft and Erotic Sorcery.

Kill me now.

And let’s not get started on the endings. It doesn’t help that these are erotic stories, of course, so they generally end after a long, sweaty bout of sex with everyone falling asleep. And I can’t just end them all with ‘and they all fell asleep’.

Original post can be found here.


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