Writing in the Fire Swamp

Buttercup: We’ll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

Alright, it’s time for some Princess Bride allusions!

Writing a first draft is like being in the fire swamp.

You’ve got the flame spurts, the lightning sand, and those blasted R.O.U.S.s (rodents of unusual size).

You’re traveling along through your manuscript and the terrain begins to be a bit more ominous. A few questions surface, snagging your sleeves like the gnarled trees of the swamp, but you press on! Then, all of a sudden, a fire spurt! A tempting new direction, bright and hot and you dodge, because you, you are going to stay on course.

You carry on, eyes peeled for any more spurts, when the ground gives way beneath you, plunging you into the lightning sand! Progress is entirely halted as you try to extricate yourself from the pit formed by your story collapsing in on you. But you manage to drag yourself out, and on to sturdier ground. You take a few deep breaths and move forward, feeling ever more determined from your narrow escapes.

You feel pretty good! A little singed by the avoided temptations of new directions and ideas, perhaps. A little weary from that plot hole that threatened to put an end to you and your story, understandably. But onward!

And then, the R.O.U.S.s. also known as Self-doubt, self-loathing, and oh-dear-god-I’m-100-pages-in-and-I’m-stuck…monsters.

Will you escape the psychological rodents of unusual size? Will you make it out of the fire swamp with something resembling a story?

Or at least, that’s how I’m feeling at the moment…

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11 thoughts on “Writing in the Fire Swamp

  1. Love this post! Allusions and emotions alike. I’ve been there, and sometimes just too scared to keep going. But I always do. Press on! And don’t forget to roll when you hear the pop pop!

  2. veschwab says:

    I will press on, and hope no six-fingered man is waiting on the other side!

  3. Love this! And I love that movie.

  4. veschwab says:

    It’s one of my all-time favorites, so it seemed appropriate. Off to dodge a few more unseen dangers!

  5. Great analogy. God I love Princess Bride. I have 3 quote icons that would work, and it was really tough to decide between them, but I decided you merited a dizzying intellect quote (for serious, and not delivered in smug Cary Elwes voice).

  6. veschwab says:

    Haha that scene is my favorite in the ENTIRE movie.
    “Hahahahahahah–” *dead*
    Sadly, the above quote is ALSO an appropriate analogy for how I’m feeling about my WIP.

  7. bracken says:

    Right there with you! I made the mistake of sending a first draft to a brutally honest friend hoping that I would glean a little “I think you have something here!” and what a got was a list of problems. Kills your spirit just a bit!

  8. I do love the rhyming scene between Inigo and Fezzig.
    “Never get involved in a land war in Asia!” So true.
    And I love this back & forth:
    “Ho there! You Spaniard!”
    “Keep your ho there” (or possible, “Keep your joder”, which would be a veryvery naught double entendre en espagnol).
    “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”
    “Have fun storming the castle!”
    God. Must watch it again soon.

  9. veschwab says:

    We’ll make it out of the fire swamp. Don’t let those ROUSs try to gnaw off a limb.

  10. veschwab says:

    Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
    Ok, I promise I’ll stop, lol.

  11. Liz says:

    You forgot the best worst feeling: when it dawns on you that the word you’ve been using might not mean what you think it means.

    Of course, that didn’t happen in the fire swamp. But it still happens.

    I just looked up at your comments. You remembered it in your comments.

    I’m not an inspirational person, but if I were, I would tell you to remember that writing a first draft is the only way to get to a second draft. Unless you can swindle MFA students into writing the first draft for you, anyway. And I’m not saying you can’t do that. But probably you won’t. So…yeah.

    Are you inspired yet?

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