Thursday, April 30, 2009
Where to Begin...courtesy of Elana
Okay, I really hope Elana doesn't mind that I am totally stealing her topic here - but as I was responding to her blog post this morning, I realized my short little answer was turning into a post of my own. So, here we are.
Elana asked the question, "How do you start writing your story?"
This question made me stop and think for a second because, up until now, I have always started at the beginning. Occasionally, I would write a scene that went somewhere else, but for the most part I tried to start as close to the beginning as possible and keep things in order.
And it just didn't work for me. I'd get stuck somewhere and just stew over it forever instead of moving on to something else. I suck at beginnings, really. I will spend as much time editing the first 3 chapters as I will on the entire rest of the book, I kid you not. And I was always, ALWAYS stressing over coming up with that perfect first line. And the consequence was four books that never made it past chapter three.
I have started and abandoned those 4 books in the last year, trying to write from start to finish. My new book was different though. Now, I just don't worry about it. I start with whatever wants to come out at the moment, and then I work backwards and forwards and I start filling in the gaps. (and knowing how OC I am with schedules and being organized, the fact that this crazy method of writing is working really well for me cracks me up to no end, but hey, if it works, I'm not going to poke at it too much) :D
For this one, I actually wrote what I thought would be the first five pages first, not because they were the beginning, but because it was the scene in my head at the time. When I was done, I thought, "hmm, sounds like a good beginning"...turns out they are really right smack dab in the middle. But I wasn't sure where to go from there. So I wrote another scene that was in my head. I figured it would be in the middle somewhere. Turns out it will probably be my ending scene. So, I had some end stuff, a bunch of middle stuff, and hardly anything for the beginning.
This should have freaked me out. But it didn't. It worked for me. I took that middle stuff and worked backwards, filling out the stuff I knew needed to come before it, the stuff that I needed to build up to what happens in the middle.
I can't tell you how exciting it has been writing this book. I am always working on something, there is always something going on in my head. And when a scene pops up, I grab my notebook and write it down instead of leaving myself notes for later (which never worked - it was frustrating in the extreme to look at these notes, knowing there was a good scene there, but not being able to remember exactly what it was).
Once I have a scene down, I figure out what I need to do to get to that scene and what needs to happen afterwards to link up to the other stuff - and IT'S WORKING! It is working better than I would have ever thought possible.
I will write a bunch of scenes in order for a while, but I don't ever feel like I am stuck because if I can't figure out what goes next, there is always another scene lurking that I can work on in the meantime. So, while I still experience the inevitable highs and lows and pauses that Real Life throws at me, I have continuously worked on this book since the day I started it. And the best part...I think I might actually finish it! :D
Right now, I have most of my beginning done. I have actually got my beginning up until the middle and a few scenes that will go at the very end. I'm starting to work on the second half of the middle stuff while still stewing over that perfect opening scene (which I haven't figured out yet).
So, my advice for those struggling with that perfect opening (or at least what works for me) - don't stress over the opening so much. It will come eventually. Just write what's in your head - stew about what comes first later (or while you are working on the rest of it). I like stewage time, don't get me wrong, but it has a tendency to derail me if I let it take over. So I just don't anymore :) And I am loving every minute of it :)