Monday, August 23, 2010

Honeymoon Phase

I started a new book two weeks ago, so I'm in what I call (and probably many other writers) the honeymoon phase. This is my favorite time during the process of writing a book because I'm generally the most productive, or at least I feel the most productive. Full blown scenes and sections of dialogue--all kinds off possibilities--flow like sweet wine from brain to fingers on the keyboard.

Part of why I'm feeling this way might have something to do with having a terrible time writing my last book. In fact, I'm still not finished with it. But I got so far behind my own schedule that I decided it was best to start up the next book and go back to the problem child after school starts up and the house gets quiet again.

In any case, though, the beginning of books is generally an exciting time for me. I'm learning about my characters. The time line, motivations, goals, plot, etc... are still evolving, so nothing is set in stone. Anything can and does happen.

In contrast, the middle of the book tend to be something, we as writers have to slog through, I think. I HOPE like heck my readers don't feel that way when they're deep into my stories, but often middles can be difficult to write. So much has to happen to tie that beginning to the ending.

I heard something interesting from a fellow writer at conference in Orlando. She was talking, I think to a Harlequin exec, who told her that many Japanese readers like to jump right from the beginning of books to the end. I guess writers aren't the only ones who hate the middle of books!

Endings are exciting, too, because things are--hopefully--coming together. It can be another very fast time in a book. As a writer, you know what has to happen, you know what work your characters need to finish. It's just a matter of getting it all down.

So if you're a writer, what's your favorite stage in your process? And if you're a reader, what's your favorite part to read in a book, beginning, middle or end?

And another question ... they say the beginning of a book hooks the reader, but the ending is what determines the next purchase of a book by this author. True by you?

Helen

15 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

I need to know what my characters look like so my favorite part is looking through websites of handsome men to find a picture of what I think my hero looks like. ~grin~ My last hero was Hugh Jackman. For my next book, I need a ruggedly handsome Italian guy.

Marilyn

Michele Hauf said...

My favorite stage is also the beginning. It's so fresh and new, and I haven't read the same chapters over and over like a bajillion times. Also, so many great ideas come to me during that first month or so of writing the story.
Second best is writing 'the end'

lois greiman said...

I used to love the first draft best, but now I really like the tinkering. Taking the almost finished product and finding that (what I think is...) the clever turn of phrase etc. I like making it all pretty at the end.

Helen Brenna said...

You know, Marilyn, you could look thru pics of handsome men on the web any ole time you like. lol But then a ruggedly handsome Italian guy sounds like fun research!

Helen Brenna said...

Michele, you're so lucky titles come to you so easily. They kill me.

Lois, there have been books recently where I've enjoyed that revision process more than any other phase. Seeing a book really take shape is so rewarding.

KylieBrant said...

The beginning used to be my favorite, too when everything was shiny and new. But now I'm finding the first 200 pages are murderously laborious to write and the next 200 fly by. Shrug. Probably something to do with the length of the books.

krisgils33 said...

It depends on how good and satisfying the book is as to which part I like the best. If all three parts are awesome, I hate the end because, well, it's over. I need a good beginning to keep me interested and want to find out what will happen further on. The middle is important too, because your characters and the story are growing and expanding and the book is building to the ultimate climax (hopefully!).

It is not the ending that makes me buy another book by the same author; it's the overall package. For example, there have been times that I've ended up not liking an ending much (sort of a feeling of "that's not the way I would have done it"), but if I liked the book overall, I'd give the author another shot.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Interesting!
I find that once I have a solid beginning, the characters have revealed themselves to me. Now it's easier to move them through their paces and reveal them through story. The first chapter is usually fun, but the next few are painfully slow. Then I get that "Aha! So that's what this is really about!" And I can spread our wings and soar.

Helen Brenna said...

Kylie, that's so interesting. I wonder if it has to do with the type of book you're writing now?

Helen Brenna said...

Krisgills, that's good to know. Endings are hard to write - so much has to come together -and I'm not always sure I nail them. Glad to know you look at the overall book when evaluating.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathy, do you write sequentially? I try to, but inevitably end up jumping around writing the scene that I get excited about the most in an effort to stay productive.

Leanne said...

And sadly, there are those occasional books where we seem to slog through the entire thing... or at least we feel like. Always surprises me to hear someone say "what a fast read" my book was when it felt like it took eons for me to write it. Helen, I've heard that a lot of super productive writers write the scene most exciting to them. I would love to get out of my sequential mode, but it's tough!

Helen Brenna said...

I used to write sequentially, but I can't write as fast that way, it seems.

The really tough part about writing the scenes that grab you rather than sequentially is that then I have a huge revision project on my hands. Have to reorder and rewrite so things flow and tie together.

I spend almost as much time revising and rewriting as I do writing!

Christie Ridgway said...

What? I didn't remember that you don't write sequentially, Helen. I guess that's no odder than the way I plot (I outline). I know the big stuff first & have to fill in.

The middle...I try to remind myself that this is a place that readers (like me) really enjoy. You get to see who is lining up for & against the h/h, you get to deepen their relationship & conflicts. It's really the meat. Beginning & endings are appetizer and dessert...without the middle the meal wouldn't be as satisfying!

Helen Brenna said...

You're so right, Christie. The middle is so important to the story. It what makes the beginning and ending stick.