8/3/11

The Mental Checklist of Excellence

I'm working on the first couple of pages - again. Trying to integrate more of who my character is and what they want...all without pouring it out there like paint from a bucket. All while maintaining voice and tension and plot.

Ah, the challenge of a writer. Tell me what color hair they have within a few paragraphs of beginning...without pausing the plot. Tell me what they want and why pronto...but stay in their voice. And, above all, don't bore me!

I've spent more time on one sentence these past couple of days than I have on some pages. Working and re-working. Phrasing and re-phrasing. Going through The Mental Checklist of Excellence:
  • reveal the character
  • describe her goal
  • maintain tension
  • move forward
  • stay in voice
Maybe that's how all books should be written, really. With that painstaking eye to the detail of every sentence. Let me tell you, though, it takes more mental energy. And at the end of the day, you have to be satisfied with ending on the same page you started with. Great writing, but page two of ninety-two.

But the quest for excellence is worth it. Always. Not perfection. Perfection is the result of excellence, not the goal. Excellence is the goal. I'm learning what it feels like. Learning what makes a lame sentence different from the excellent one. I can see the difference.

You rock, awesome writerly peoples. Go be excellent. How will you be excellent today?

1 comment:

Katie said...

If I could hug you, I would. But I'll have to settle with sending you hugs over the Internet. And hot chocolate. And cookies.

Well... One must appease the muse, right? :P

I struggle with the same things. Sometimes I end up staring at the paper, or word document, for Great Long periods of time completely absorbed in one silly sentence. It takes time. Lots of time. But in the end it's worth it.

Keep plugging away! Keep striving for excellence! It's what will set you apart from the rest.