Paula sometimes feels like tearing her hair out.
I’ve recently spent what seems like an inordinate amount of
time on a short conversation in my ‘work in progress’. It’s less than 500
words, but I’ve written and re-written those words at least a dozen times until
I felt like I was tearing my hair out. Each time, I thought I had got it right i.e.
the balance between what the heroine actually said, and what she left out of
her explanation. When I looked at it again, I decided there was either too much
– or not enough.
Sometimes I can whip through 2 or 3 pages of dialogue with
no problem. Other times, like with this conversation, I agonise, and go
back and forth with it forever! There’s a ‘fine line’ somewhere, and I’m not
sure I have found it yet.
I can recall having similar struggles with some of my other
novels, usually with short but highly significant parts of the story. Often it can
involve an explanation of something, where you don’t want to give everything
away to the readers, but at the same time need to give enough to arouse their
interest or curiosity.
Other times, I struggle with how to get my characters from
Event A to Event B without saying, ‘Three weeks later…’ or ‘padding’ the story
with unnecessary detail about what happened (if anything!) during those three
I’m sure most readers have no idea of how much we struggle
at times to get things right, so that the story flows. It’s only we authors who
know we have to paddle like mad through the white water to get to the smooth
What part of writing makes you feel like tearing your hair