Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why Are Some Books Harder Than Others?--Jenna Black

People often ask me questions about my writing process. I always have trouble answering those questions, because for me, the process seems to be different for every book. With some books (for example, WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT), I start out with a full plot synopsis. I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the end without making major changes, but at least I had the illusion of a road map before I started. For others, like THE DEVIL INSIDE, I have next to no plan when I start, and the plot slowly unfolds as I go along. Then there are the others, which seem to fight me all the way from start to finish, no matter what approach I take.

My upcoming Guardians of the Night release, HUNGERS OF THE HEART, is one of the latter kind. (Actually, the book before it, SHADOWS ON THE SOUL, was the same, but it’s not as freshly in my mind at the moment.) Something about that book made it very, very hard for me to write. And I sure wish I could identify what that mysterious “something” was. (I’m not sure I could eliminate it even if I did identify it, but that’s a whole different issue.)

I have not gotten tired of the Guardians of the Night world. Nor have I gotten tired of the characters. In fact, Drake, the hero of HUNGERS OF THE HEART, has been one of my (and my readers’) favorites from the beginning. I had no trouble getting myself enthused about the book, and I got excited when I thought about all the possibilities. And yet, whenever I sat down to write, I’d invariably get stuck. I had to fight to keep myself in the chair. Suddenly, it seemed terribly important that I get that laundry done, or got out to the gym, or played a game of Civilization on the computer. I was in serious writing-avoidance mode.

I don’t know what it is about that particular book that made it so hard, but let me tell you, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally made it to The End. I hope that it came out all right despite the fact that it was such a struggle. I’m too close to it now to tell. Of course, as I said, I had a lot of trouble with SHADOWS ON THE SOUL, too, and it ended up earning my first Top Pick from Romantic Times, as well as a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award nomination. (So did THE DEVIL INSIDE, which for whatever mysterious reason came easily.)

What this tells me is that the ease with which I write the book has little or nothing to do with the quality of the end product. Which is in some ways a good thing. I was able to remind myself of that fact repeatedly while I was struggling with HUNGERS, and it did give me some level of comfort. Still, I must admit, I like the easy ones better! (Especially when I have a tight deadline!)


Karen said...

Boy, can I relate! Some books are like breech babies--seemingly impossible to birth. Yet when I go back and read those exceedingly difficult, dragged out of your "pen" from a hole the size of a nanometer scenes, they're some of my best work.

But dang, I wish they'd come a little easier.

Jamie Leigh Hansen said...

I feel for you! I'm struggling at times but don't have near the deadlines you do. I was reading about this last night. Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron. It was pretty inspirational. Although she says that's just part of the highs and lows, difficult and easy books, of writing. I know, helpful. lol

Pat Cochran said...

I'm a reader, not a writer, so I
can't put myself into your shoes.
It would be impossible for me to
know how you struggle to bring
your books to us! God bless you
and make your way easier!

Pat Cochran

Gigi said...

I certainly respect you for working though the hard books.
I don't write but I think I wouldn't have it in me to trudge on through the difficulties to finish somthing like a book.

You know when I am reading some books it just flows so easily. I wonder if the author was able to write the book as fast as I am able to read because everything just seems to fit so easily.

Lois said...

That's why I probably don't have what it takes to be an author, because the moment I hit a tough spot, I'd probably quit! LOL :)


Tracy Wolff said...

I think some of the difficulty comes when I have to step outside my natural voice. For example, my contemporaries, erotic romances and even paranormals come fairly easily to me. But my romantic comedy is so much harder-- it's an agony and every word a triumph of sheer will. So why am I bothering? I have two characters who won't get out of my head, no matter how much I've put them off for the last two years. So, believe me, Jenna. I feel for you :)