Daily Archives: October 15, 2008

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On Finishing the Damn Book

October 15, 2008 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as , ,

by Marianne H. Donley

I am taking an online class titled Fast Draft. The idea behind the class is to send your internal editor on vacation. Somewhere nice, of course, like the East Coast where she can bask in the fall colors and leave you the heck alone. Then you’re supposed to write twenty pages a day for two weeks. (For those of you who don’t want to do the math this early in the morning, that would be two hundred eighty pages.) You aren’t supposed to pay the less bit of attention to the quality of your written pages, here quantity only counts.

It was actually working pretty well there for a while. I will admit that I struggled to get twenty pages completed each day, but I was getting much more writing done. Since the start of the class, I’ve been averaging about ten pages a day. Before the class, I would be thrilled with three. No internal editor in sight. When an idea for tweaking an earlier chapter popped into my head, I made a note of it and then forged on.

Then we went to the Poconos on Saturday. What was I thinking? The Poconos are on the East Coast. Yes, the fall colors were beautiful, but the place was just crawling with internal editors. I think at least six of them hitched a ride home with us. Now, they’re crowded into my little writing cubby, whispering things.

Internal editor #1: That first scene in chapter six. You must be joking.

Internal editor #2: But we can tell you how to fix it.

Internal editor #3 It really isn’t funny. It doesn’t move the story forward.

Internal editor #4: Wait, chapter six is fine. Can we talk about the ending of chapter seven? Can we say weak? WEAK!

Internal editor #5: What the heck happened to the dog in chapter four? First she was there barking and then she disappeared. You have to go back and explain what happened to the dog. Short fix. It won’t take you long, a sentence here, a bark there. Two or three hours at the most. You know if you don’t do it now, you’ll forget all about it.

Internal editor #6: No offence, in that scene you just wrote, your heroine is acting like a twit. But I can tell you how to fix it. All you have to do is rewrite her scene from the hero’s POV, so instead of her just cleaning things up, he’s searching for clues. Clues are much better than cleaning.

I don’t think all of the internal editors who hopped into the car are mine. Some of them could be yours. If so, I wish you would call them home. I have to get rid of them, especially the ones who don’t belong to me. I enjoy writing a lot of pages each day and I don’t like all the whispering going on while I write. Sending them on vacation didn’t work for long. Yet, I don’t want to do anything too drastic like tossing them in the septic tank. While that would help get pages done, I really wouldn’t want to work with them after they lived in that environment. In addition, I suspect they won’t be too happy about the whole situation. Since I want to make use of them later when the first draft is done I really don’t want them mad at me. I suspect living in the septic for any length of time would make them all a bit grumpy.

So I’ve decided to give them all sleeping pills in this morning’s coffee. These are going to be long lasting magic sleeping pills, sort of like apple Sleeping Beauty ate (which I guess makes me the wicked witch, but I can deal with that). They are going to stay asleep until I write the magic words “The End” on that last page. So if I have YOUR internal editor hanging around, you might want to get her out of here before breakfast, otherwise she won’t be working until the end of November.

Marianne Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her supportive husband Dennis and two loveable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name, which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides, they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.

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