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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Am I struggling already?

In a word, YES!!!

I have finally resumed my W. I. P. and already my inner doubts are flooding my mind. I've spent this evening going through a mental checklist:
  • Do I know my characters? Are they grounded in my head?
  • Do I know their back story?
  • Do I know the setting?
  • Do I know where to start the story?
Yes, I know my characters, and I thought they were grounded in my head - that is until I realised I'd been calling my heroine 'Kate' for the past two pages (Kate was my previous heroine)!

Yes, I know their back story, but maybe I haven't lived with it enough.

Yes, I know the setting, but again, maybe I haven't lived with it enough.

Yes, I know where to start the story.

Now the big question: do I know why I am struggling already?
YES! It's all become clear: I'm making the same mistake I always make - I'm far too eager to start writing. I think there will always be a part of me that is a pantser, but there is also part of me that needs something of a planned outline, if for nothing other than to keep those nagging doubts at bay.

Outcome: I need to live with my characters and their story for a little longer. I need to write a more thorough outline for Chapter 1, and I need to give each scene a beginning, middle, and end.

Then, who knows, Chapter 1 may even write itself...


Liz Fielding said...

Starting is hell, isn't it?

The secret, I find, is to toss your H/h in at the deep end. Tilt their world, make them mad enough to come out fighting.

It's the pink ribbons tied to his gate that's flipped my hero's lid. He hasn't even got a full name yet -- he's just Tom -- but he's mad as all get out!

Jessica Raymond said...

((Sue)) Know what you mean -- I always feel the same kind of jitters. Don't forget that a first draft is *never* perfect, and Nora Roberts' famous advice that a blank page cannot be edited is worth remembering. If you want to start writing now, then do it -- you can always go back and improve the story later, however many times you need to.

Jess x

India said...

I hate the first bit too, Sue. The best advice I had, as preached by the lovely Amanda Ashby is just to keep writing-- as long as you know where your story is going (which I usually do, I'm just not sure how to get the reader there in the first couple of chapters) you can always come back and write a tight, succinct, emotionally spot-on opening chapter later. Sounds scary, but give it a go!

Margaret McDonagh said...

You have my sympathies, Sue and I echo the advice already given. I hate beginnings. I'm very character driven and the longer I spend with my characters in my head, knowing them, having them living their stories in my mind, the easier I find it to write. So at the beginning, I don't know them so well. Try to keep going, get it down, then you can go back and change what needs changing. And yes, as ever, this is do as I say and not as I do!


Stacy Dawn said...

Oh wow! I just got caught up and I'm so proud of everything you're doing!!

And to collaborate with your DD...I'm envious! I wish you all success.

As for the writing, ignore me if you want but if you want to write...WRITE. There is no rule that says you can't be half panster and half plotter. I am. Like Jessica said. The first draft doesn't have to be perfect...in fact, no matter how much you know of your characters, they're going to change on you as you actually write which is why we call it a first draft LOL.

And with the new amazing software you have (I really should look into that) then by all means write and have fun at the same time!!

Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now *g*

Melissa Marsh said...

If you're feeling the urge to write, then don't squash it. If you need to go back later and fix it, that's ok! You're WRITING!

Michelle said...

I never know how to start my stories until I'm 100 pages in. I need to find a better solution! :) Good luck with yours.

Ces said...

I am not a writer but I feel the same way in some of my paintings. Sometimes I just sit in front of it staring at it and wondering what to do next. Sometimes I get a flood of ideas and I can't wait to finish it, so I skip sleep and food until I am satisfied with my painting.

I hope you find your muse and shes stays with you until the end of the novel!

Anonymous said...

Annie (cast out by Blogger) said:

There is an expression in athletics known as 'in the zone'. When you are 'in the zone', your mind is totally taken up with the race. There is no room in your mind for anything else. Therefore, there is no room for self-doubt or self-questioning. The training is done, the time is now.

If you apply this to writing - once you have planned as far as you can (the training) and are ready to write - then you should allow no room in your mind to question whether you know your characters enough (the longer you write about them the more you get to know them anyway - just like getting to know real people in real life), whether you have enough plot or what is the beginning, middle or end. Instead, you are physically with the characters, talking to them face to face, reacting to them in the present time, moving through the story alongside them. You are 'in the story'. You are 'in the zone'.

Now I must just apply that to my own writing and I might even have something to offer the RNA by the end of August.

Sue aka MsCreativity :-) said...

Thanks Liz, that's a timely reminder - I've now changed my beginning, and it's made a world of difference. :-)

Jess, I forget too easily that a first draft isn't supposed to be perfect. I still struggle with allowing myself to 'get it written' as opposed to 'getting it right'. But I'm working on it...

India, thanks for your words of wisdom and support (pass my thanks on to Amanda too!). I don't know where my story is going until the characters tell me, but I do know what their internal conflicts are likely to be.

Mags, it's very reassuring to discover that I'm not the only one who dislikes beginnings. I wouldn't feel so bad if I didn't keep forgetting my characters' names!!

Stacy, many thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your advice too - I'd never ignore you. ;-) You're so right, even when you get to know the characters they still change on you as the story progresses - why do they do that?!

Thanks Melissa - again it's so obvious isn't it - that's what writing is!!

Michelle, thanks for visiting. A 100 pages :-o (and there I am already worrying on page 7!)!!

Ces, I guess it's something all creative people have in common. Thanks for stopping by - wishing you well with your future projects.

Annie, thank you so much for not letting Blogger deter you from commenting. Being 'in the zone' makes a lot of sense. I'd never looked at it that way before, but it's true, if you're focused enough there's no room left for self doubt. I'm striving to have something for the RNA this year too - sending you loads of good writing vibes.

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to give me such wonderful advice - it's very much appreciated!

Sue :-)