Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Confidence is Key

I recently finished a book, and the first thing I thought when I closed it was “That was a confident book.  That must be what it feels like to KNOW you can write.”  I had never thought of it in those terms before but once I did I realized I had noticed it in books all along.  There are some books  that know where they are going and march strongly forward.  There are some books that can’t make up their minds to follow plot A or B, or that don’t want to hurt their characters, and so they dither along and hint at a lot of things but don’t do anything.  At the end of the book you think NOTHING HAPPENED and feel cheated.  

I once posted a piece and received this crit “ There are wonderful flashes and descriptions, but there are also times when your main character doesn't really appear real, as though you haven't fully entered her world, her time period, her person. It is hard for me to feel anything for her, much as I wish to. For the moment, you are watching her instead of _being her_ and until that magic happens, your work isn't credible enough.”    Credibility.  It’s hard to feel confident in our writing all the time but until we do why should anyone else?  Readers know if there is no confidence or credibility in writing, and if there's not the book never rises above mediocre. 

Wordplay has a post here about vague writing.  After I read this I started to notice some of these things in my writing.  The lack of credibility goes right along with vague writing.  It’s as if I wanted to give myself an out just in case a reader called me on something when what is needed is decisiveness. I'm fixing a lot of that with this draft and I can tell a difference.

What do you think of confidence in writing?

9 comments:

  1. I think confidence comes from practice. Lots and lots of it. Also experience. Sometimes I wonder if the confidence will ever come, but I think there have been a few precious moments when I knew, absolutely what I was doing. Hoping for more of that.:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. confidence in writing? ... An absolute must. I've seen it enough to know that I've got it, I'd just like a little more consistency, if that's not too much trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You know you're reading well-crafted writing when you simultaneously a) know the author is in total control and b) are completely immersed in the POV character and/or narrative.

    No idea how they do it, but I'll try to figure it out for the sake of my writing too. [g]

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ruth, I agree. Lots and lots of practice. Though I'm sure that there are experienced authors that write books that take them out of their comfort zones that also feel lacking in confidence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Widdershins, Ah, consistency. That's a whole other blog post. If you figure it out send me a message.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jillybean, I guess we'll have to keep reading good books so we can figure it out. Then no one can get vexed* at us for burning the dinner or not cleaning cause, hey, it's work.

    *I am not referencing The Engineer because he is very supportive and never complains when I burn dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post! And a good one to remember as I launch the next round of edits. Must sound confident... Stop having my characters dither...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey characters can dither. It's part of tension and conflict. It's more that the plot and writing can't dither.

    ReplyDelete
  9. True! She says as she begins another round of edits...

    ReplyDelete