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Why Writing a Novel is Like Shopping For A Pair of Jeans…

December 14, 2010

Sometimes writing a novel is like trying to buy a pair of jeans….

With this latest scene I’m working on, it’s like I’ve taken 50 pairs of jeans of all kinds—low rise, boot-cut, sequined, dark fabric, light fabric and acid washed—and dragged them into a small, cramped, badly lit change room to wrestle with. And each time, I’m twisting this way and that, catching every angle, trying to decide—is THIS the one?

But nothing is FITTING right.

I’ve rewritten this scene a dozen different ways, providing minor alterations to the details (in jean parlance: button fly vs. zipped) as well as major alterations (in jean parlance: skinny legs vs. baggy). My characters have tried arguing, making nice, kissing, witty banter—and now I’ve got him skipping out on the meeting altogether—the heroine is left stewing in her second hand clothes, wondering why the Devil he’s stood her up—.

And yet even that doesn’t feel/fit right…

Sometimes the writing flows and other times it’s like this and I have to try every word on, evaluate, discard. Try another word on, evaluate, discard. Repeat, repeat, REPEAT. Until I have a heap of words in the corner of the change room and I’m storming out in a fit of pique…

Worse than going jeans shopping, I tell you!

Anybody else out there have this problem?

6 comments

  1. This is so true! Sometimes I think you just have bad days, or even bad weeks, when a scene just won’t work. Instead of trying to force it, I usually skip ahead to a scene that I think I have a firm grasp on and come back to the scene that makes me want to pull my hair out!
    Good luck and I look forward to future posts,
    Emily Harper


    • I have thought of doing that, skipping the scene and heading to the next one and I may do that yet. It’s just that I’m a very linear writer…I like to lay down each scene one after the other and not move on until I’m fairly happy with the foundations I’ve just set.

      Thanks for the idea! And thanks for dropping by!

      Julie J.


  2. Yes… some days the words flow, the ideas flow. Other days, not!


    • Yep! And I have to remind myself of how good the ‘flow’ days are so that when these ‘not flow’ days are happening, I don’t give up!

      Thanks for dropping by!
      Julie J.


  3. Try writing the scene with a volcano erupting right under their feet.

    Or maybe the protagonist gets hit by a dozen lemon meringue pies just as he goes to kiss her.

    Literary shock treatment 🙂

    Wayne


    • Ha ha! Maybe that will let something creative loose…sometimes we do take ourselves too seriously as writers and we just have to play around and have some fun!

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Julie J.



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