Falling into an Oubliette


An oubliette is a small dungeon, a hole in the ground a prisoner is dropped into, often never to be seen again – It’s a no way out sort of trap and many of us have felt stuck in one for one reason or another, even (or maybe especially) in our writing.

Writing a book is a repetitive exercise, you have to go back over it again and again, writing, editing, polishing, changing, rewriting, re-editing, re-polishing, changing, etc.

Sometimes you’re working so hard on one area of your manuscript that you get bogged down more in the work itself than the storyline. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have done that.

It starts off by staying in those pages for an extended period. You read them so many times, they become old news to you. You know every line. If you stay there for too long, however, a different sort of problem crops up and you might find yourself trying to deal with the length of something that turns out to be purely perception and not a fault in your work at all.

Only recently I was looking at a scene of mine that felt way too long, only to realize that it feels that way simply because I kept reading it over and over again. One page felt like thirty. There was nothing wrong with the scene. I had polished it up fine, I’d just taken so long to do it that I continued to see a problem where none existed.

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