Top Five Things I Hate About Writing
You'd think I wouldn't put this post off for so long, given that it's about writing…but considering it's "things that drive me bats" and since I've been thinking about doing it in place of a 5FF, I keep making excuses.
So, in order of occurrence in the writing process, I bring you the "Top Five Things I Hate About Writing".
Coming Up with a Title: sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's a superbitch. I just love it when I come up with a title that has absolutely nothing to do with the novel!
- Ophelia (originally Meet Ophelia) — self-referential titles aren't too bad, but you can't always name the book after the main character, either.
- Broken Road — no freaking clue what this has to do with the book. Am I trying to say "love is a difficult road", or am I saying, "everything in this freaking book is screwed up"?
- Barefoot on the Couch — I once said if I released a CD/record, I'd call it this. I like running barefoot and sitting on the couch. My dad took a photo of me kneeling barefoot on the couch, which I then cropped and used for the cover. Get the idea?
- Early One Morning — may seem cryptic, but it's meant to convey that Yeshua went on trial early one morning.
- Exilium — Latin for "exile"
- Julia — again with the referential title, but I didn't think there was any better name for it, either.
Future/possible titles that make little to no sense:
- For the Fallen Dreams: that was a band in high school; although I guess you could argue that the lead characters are trying to reassemble their lives.
- January Rain: has nothing to do with a girl entering a convent–I just wanted to name a novel January Rain. (I finally decided to have Gabrielle enter the priory in January and made it rain shortly after. 😛 )
- Southern Withdrawal: is a play on "Southern drawl"–it doesn't bear any relevance on a girl who runs around assassinating racists.
- The Blessing Way: vaguely makes sense, as it's about priestesses.
- Piper at the Gates of Dawn: I heard that phrase or a phrase like it once and decided I wanted to make a novel out of it.
Book That Has Been Renamed Three Times: the one where David Carradine's "avatar" was murdered…and the assassins kept on killing the family. It's presently called Breathless (for the manner in which it appears he died)…previously The Death of the Caleys (too damn obvious)…originally Morning Chimes (because Haniya ran from her hotel to Dominic's while morning bells were ringing.)
Book That Defies Naming: that one where the young woman was mysteriously attacked…and kind of turns into a monster. It's called Thalassa after the lead female, because I honestly don't know what else to call it. (*tear*)
Writing That First Freaking Chapter! You have this wonderful idea all mapped out in your head…but you have no fucking clue how to tell the story. I'm fond of trying to pick up the story in the middle of an existing action (at least to start any other chapter) so you have a good catch line.
Ophelia is a good example of this. If you ignore the prologue, the first chapter opens with Harry having just walked out of the attorney's office in desperate need of a drink. Until you choose to continue, you don't know why he's so upset or what's causing his headache. Exilium opens with [spoiler]Pontius arriving in Sicily, angry at having to chase Julia down after she refused to go to Ireland.[/spoiler] The story seed I'm working on right now (Backlash?) I know I want it to open with Assembly and Shanna meeting Galen at some point, but I'm struggling with how to set things out.
No Conflict, sometimes indicated with the fanfic tag "PWP". (Usually meaning "porn without plot", but my favorite is, "Plot? What plot?")
I hate it when I'm writing something and I stop and think, "What's the point of this?" That's one thing I run into when I think about working on Julia: knowing that I want to tell the story of how she went from the daughter of a Jewish cloth merchant to the High Priestess of Isis, whose opinions are valued even by the Romans; but realizing there's no inherent conflict. (Save for her adoptive parents wanting her to become a "proper Roman woman" before she joins the temple, of course.)
I've gone back to work on Backlash, but I encountered the same thing. Yes, I want to convey that the Romani are different than what you see on television and in the movies, but where is the conflict? I have a villain, but so what? Once my protagonist thwarts him, why do we have to have the story of a young lady who isn't so capable of escaping his grasp?
(Maybe I'd be better off going back to Dark and Dirty Games…at least there's a problem to solve in that one, even if I am having a hard time telling the story.)
Cover Design: got a title, got a workable storyline and characters worth reading about…now what the hell am I going to put on the cover?! There are designers out there, but if you don't have a zillion dollars, forget it. Even if you do, there's no guarantee it will be any good. I don't believe I shared my travails with 99designs on here; but a few years ago, I "offered" $299 for someone to design me a cover, and 90% of the mockups I received were absolutely ridiculous. I ended up buying the stock photo used in one of them (that will be the image for the omnibus) and bought a completely new image to use.
There's a publishing crowdfunding site out there called "Publishizer"…I was going to go with them to see what I could do for Dark and Dirty Games and they were like, "Great, now you just need a professional cover." I put about three hours into writing the proposal and used the cover I had on hand and it's not good enough for you? He suggested 99d and I told him what happened (and also that if I had $300, I wouldn't need Publishizer) and he suggested Fiverr. I see, so you really think I'm going to get a better cover for five dollars than what I put together in Photoshop? Doubtful.
I admit that a simple black cover with jackets for each of the Wolves fanned out on it isn't wonderful, but it's still better than Tana's idea of flopping them all over the place. (I tried it, just to make sure I wasn't sticking my nose up at a good opportunity and it was messy.)
Author's Note: I went and checked out Fiverr this morning (after writing that last night)…wow, was I wrong! I'm guessing professional graphic designers get enough business with them to make five-dollar projects worthwhile–especially now that I know they can offer extras for more than five dollars. Who knew!
I found one that I may entrust Dark and Dirty Games to…if she does a great job, I'll have her redo the covers of Ophelia, Early One Morning and Exilium. (Possibly Broken Road, but not Barefoot on the Couch. That's fine.) I would also therefore assign her any future cover.
There is something worse than coining a title for your book. Coming up with the blurb (or back summary). In fact, if there's anything I envy more than a professional cover on a traditionally published book, it's the fact that the editor/publisher will write the blurb for you! (As I write this, I'm checking Fiverr to ensure I'm not missing out on someone who will do that, too. *chuckle*)
I mean, I can tell you what my book is about, but I'm not fantastic at skipping spoilers (as you've well-learned) and making my rambling description sound like it came off a traditionally published book is often difficult. That is, if I don't draw a blank in the first place! (I don't know how many times I've sat in front of a blank screen and thought, "Oh my Goddess…what am I supposed to say?!)
You know, this had a lot more fuel behind it before I stopped blowing off Fiverr. But titles, plots and first chapters are still up to me…and those are agonising enough.