Tag Archives: difficult

Authors Answer 57 – Stop Asking Me That Question!

Authors are asked a lot of questions. They may have interviews, they may talk at conventions or book signings, or they may talk with friends and family. Well, sometimes, we get questions we keep hearing over and over again, or are too complex to answer briefly.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 57 – What is one question you hate answering about your writing that acquaintances ask you?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

There are just SO MANY questions that people ask that make writers writhe with rage. I could probably make one hell of a list if given the time. That said, I can honestly say that the one question that enrages me the most is the one people inevitably ask when they find out I have a written, published book: “Is it, like, in book stores?”

I always bite my tongue and try to answer as politely and honestly as possible, but this question makes me so mad every time I hear it because it implies that the act of writing, editing, revising, cover-designing, formatting, and self-editing is somehow less because you can’t find the book at your local Coles or Barnes and Noble. Never mind the fact that you can purchase it on literally any version of Amazon, hard copy or e-book…if it’s not on a shelf in a physical store people don’t think of it as being a “real” book, in the same way that lots of people don’t consider a self-published book to be a “real” book (i.e. “If it was really any good, a real publisher would have taken it.”) And that can be an extremely frustrating conversation to have because writer’s have a hard enough time convincing people that writing is “real” work to begin with.

Jean Davis

Why does it take you so long to finish a novel if you can write it in 30 days? Really? You want to read the crap I write during NaNoWriMo? That’s the roughest of drafts. No one wants to read that. No one.

S. R. Carrillo

“How did you get published?” Because, to anyone who isn’t a writer, the fact that I self-published it usually met with an unenthusiastic “Oh, okay. That’s pretty neat.” -_-

Elizabeth Rhodes

“What’s your book about?”  Not that it isn’t a valid question, and I’m glad people take enough of an interest to ask.  But I’m terrible at summarizing things on the spot.  I want to include every character interaction and motivation as I’m relating the plot, and next thing you know my “elevator pitch” is taking five minutes.  There’s also part of me that is still afraid of being judged, whether it’s “what, you can’t even tell me what it’s about?” or “why would you write about that?  Weirdo.

Eric Wood

So far I haven’t had to field any questions about my writing. I just write and people just read. They leave/make comments when they feel inspired to. Having not yet been published, my audience is rather small (but important).

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t really have a problem with any questions, though ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ is a bit annoying.  But I enjoy talking about my worldbuilding and writing process probably more than people appreciate hearing about it, so I immediately override any obnoxious question with my obsessively detailed answer.  Take that, person who dared be interested in my work!  Seriously though, I can’t think of any questions I’d consider ‘bad’ unless someone was purposefully trying to be offensive.

Allen Tiffany

Honestly, I don’t bring my writing up with very many people. In fact, it’s a closely guarded secret from my co-workers. It is not that I’m embarrassed about it. Rather, it would be an unneeded distraction in my workplace. As to family and friends…I’m pretty private about it. When I publish I let them know. Other than that, not sure there is much to talk about. If I need feedback and discussion about theory and technique, it is via the online workshop, CritiqueCircle.

Caren Rich

Until recently, I was a closet writer. I didn’t tell acquaintances that I was a writer. My close friends and family knew, but that’s it. So I have no funny answers to share!

Paul B. Spence

I hate to answer THIS question the way everyone does, but honestly, one of the worst has to be “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Most people don’t like it when I answer, “In the shower.” Or, if you want the Scott Pilgrim answer, “From my brain!”

Gregory S. Close

It’s always frustrating to answer the very innocent question of “how’s the book going?” if it’s not going so well.  When things are moving along, the questioning and curiosity is less awkward because I feel like things are working and I know what I’m doing.  When things aren’t going so well, the question feels like an indictment and I want to hide in a cave.

The other one that’s hard is the “when will the book be done?” question.  For most of the writing process, I have no idea when it will be done, because the story and characters are evolving around me as I write, and the plot is adapting to those new realities as well.  It’s sort of like Monty Python’s Sir Lancelot running toward the castle, over and over again, almost there, then back to the beginning, then almost there, then back, then – suddenly there’s a flashing sword and it’s all over, and I’m standing there confused saying “hey!”

Either way, the problem is really with me and not the person asking the question.  It’s my insecurities that make the answer difficult. The questions themselves are pretty innocent.

D. T. Nova

“What’s it about?”

I am terrible at summarizing, especially when I have to do it quickly.

Jay Dee Archer

I don’t really get many questions about my writing from friends and family, but the one question I find difficult to answer is “What’s your book about?” I think that’s pretty common, actually. It’s too difficult to describe a book briefly without it sounding kind of silly. I’m always worried they’ll ask more questions, like “Why are you writing about that?” or “Do you think it’ll be a bestseller?” Those are also difficult to answer.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what question do you hate to be asked? If you’re not an author, but a reader, what questions do you like to ask authors?

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Authors Answer 40 – Difficult Scenes

Some people think writing is easy.  It’s not. Some aspects are easier for some authors, while others are more difficult. But it’s usually not the same from author to author.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 40: What kind of scenes do you find most difficult to write?

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t know that I find any kind of scene difficult — except sex scenes, which I just don’t write.  I enjoy writing action scenes, dream sequences, extended dialogue, lavish descriptions, etc etc…  There are certain things I don’t write, like in-depth narration or exposition, but that’s because I don’t like that stuff and try not to include it.  I have been told that when my characters monologue, it’s not so great, so I’m working on that.

Paul B. Spence

I find sex scenes to be difficult because I prefer to respect my characters’ privacy. I also have difficulty with political scenes and scenes where bad things happen to good people.

Caren Rich

Action scenes tend to be the hardest for me to write. Mainly because there is so much going on in them. You’re not only thinking about dialogue but also the choreography of the characters movements with each other and their surroundings. Not to mention pacing it properly so it doesn’t drag or occur too fast.

Eric Wood

It’s not so much scenes I struggle with as much as dialog. I can hear the characters voices in my head but I can’t get them to sound real. Or at least not on paper. I doubt myself quite a bit, too. I wonder if what my characters say is how people really talk. Or if the reader reads my characters words with the same tone that I intended. I know the general direction I want my story to go, but I struggle with the conversation to get my story from point A to point B.

Jean Davis

Getting someone from point A to point B in a meaningful manner is usually a challenge for me. I can kill characters, drive them into spirited physical or emotional combat, torture them with countless obstacles or maybe even let them find love, but man, if I have to spend a couple pages on riding horseback while describing the scenery between the nearest inn and the distant castle during which two weeks pass, its pure agony on my end.  Those scenes are usually scrapped and turned into a short summarized paragraph along the lines of: they travelled, nothing happened, and now we’re moving on to what happens when they got there.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It depends on what kind of difficulty you’re talking about. If we’re talking about, for instance, emotional difficulty, I find death scenes are the worst. I put a lot of love and emotion into my characters, so if it comes down to having to kill them things can get pretty rough pretty fast.

But if we’re talking more about the kinds of scenes that make you want to tear your hair out because you just can’t find the words, I’d definitely go with fight/battle scenes. I’ve actually been told that I’m pretty good at them, but I do find them terribly difficult to write. There’s a pretty fine line between a scene that’s painfully boring and a scene that is obviously trying too hard. I struggle to maintain the balance because often I’ll feel that I successfully wrote an amazing scene full of tension and action, but when I go back through it it’ll be super-short, or it won’t be clear who’s doing what, or it will genuinely make me yawn aloud. It can be an exercise in humility for sure, but it also makes me work twice as hard to get it right.

Gregory S. Close

I can’t think of any one type of scene that’s most troublesome.  Romance, action, murder, losing a favorite character – these are all hard to write in the sense that it takes an emotional toll.  However, sometimes they are very easy in terms of flowing from brain to finger tips to paper.  (One minor character’s death came sudden and swift, and in just a few short sentences the imaginary life that I created came to an imaginary end, and it felt awful – but the words came easy).

For me, the hardest scene to write is the one that I’m not excited about, or doesn’t seem real in the context of the characters and narrative.  I think that comes through in prose, and as I reflect on it, most of the times that a particular scene frustrated me were solved by finding the excitement in it.  The climax of In Siege of Daylight provided a lot of that kind of frustration. There were a couple of scenes that were very challenging to write (not the ones where people died, to my prior point), until I finally listened to my characters (one in particular) and took a different approach.  Then, the scene felt right to me, the actions of the characters rang true, and that which had been so difficult to write became exciting and was over with in short order.

And hopefully better!

Allen Tiffany

I don’t really think of any specific kind of scene as an issue. The challenge is always to make scenes meaningful and efficient (no extra words, nothing about the weather or landscape…only things that matter to the story).

Linda G. Hill

Fist-fight scenes are very difficult for me.  I can see it play out in my head but I can never get one down on paper without feeling as though it’s boring. And let’s face it – there’s nothing boring about a fight. I avoid writing about them every bit as much as I avoid getting into one.

D. T. Nova

Scenes involving deep levels of dishonesty and deception. The more complex and convincing, the harder it is to write. (At least up until the point where the liar has herself deceived as well, in which case it gets easier again because then it’s a belief and not a lie.)

Jay Dee Archer

I don’t think it’s really any particular scene that’s difficult, but certain kinds of narratives that are. I have no problem with dialogue. But narratives involving a lot of action give me trouble. In particular, I feel as if I’m not using descriptive enough words or I’m trying too hard. I need to find a happy medium.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, what kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Let us know in the comments below.