Fight Club

Passion is needed in writing long forms of fiction. You need it along with discipline and patience when completing something longer then a short story. Yet there are times when the passion and love can make you keep working on a book that is just not happening. I’ve had a few of those and the correlation I see is I love the idea/premise more than the character and the story.

This happened to me with an epic existential literary novel and a bizarro novella. With both, I felt so passionate about the idea as they dealt with religion and I felt like I was “really saying something”. I see now looking at these failures with less passion is I was approaching both books like a Facebook discussion/argument: this is so cool, just hear me out and see how cool it is.

This is recipe for very bad fiction. While an idea can give us passion, if it is the main fuel the car is gonna start fucking up by the second act.

This was a tough lesson, because I am a system writer and really trust my process. I was on a nice a role and thought I learned from my literary novel, but whether it is high or low art, if the idea is the star the book 9/10 times can end up being very weak.

Tits From Hell Cover

That was the cover already made because I felt so confident in the idea and I even made a book trailer that got a shitload of views.

I had a decent first draft and thought it will only get better, but as I developed the character (because she was barely there in the first draft) the book just got worse. The idea and the character didn’t match up, because she was just serving the idea and not the story. If the character and plot/story whatever you want to call it are not having a dance, then you are just playing shitty song.

I think this really hurts literary novels more, but it can also hurt high concept writers like myself.

When we have such faith and passion in a book idea, this is where we get Hubris and I had it big time. You don’t make book trailers and beta covers until that book is good to go.

I am a fan of efficiency and don’t just like to learn from mistakes but try to prevent them in the first place. While, I respect the creative process, I am not a fan of working on a shitty book for years. I’ve done that and it sucks. So before I write my draft after outlining I need to ask myself: I am writing about an idea, or am I writing about a character or characters in the story?

If I answer idea, I need to stop and think more about the character/characters and their desires. If I am thinking about this in the second and third draft…it is time to start a new book.

Christoph Paul is an author of 6 books that include topics of managing porn stores, sharks attacking the White House, Grindhouse-esque short stories, and poetry.

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