Monday, November 9, 2009

You put one foot in front of the other

I'm still fighting the blahs that struck me last week and my writing has suffered for it. It's never too late to start over, however, so that is what I am doing. I've reworked my opening at least three times and I've finally hit it to where I can continue. 50k words at this point is a mighty big stretch. Okay, it's not gonna happen, but the whole point is to write so I that's what I'm doing.

About that opening...I know, I KNOW, I'm not supposed to rewrite during Nanowrimo. However, I don't know how it is for you, but I cannot get into my story's groove if I am not comfortable with the opening (not that that means I finish what I write if I do happen to like my opening- just ask Sam, who's read many of my first paragraphs but has yet to read the last one). If the first couple of paragraphs don't jive with the tone I'm trying to set, I'm dead in the water. There is no skipping ahead, either: it has to work from the beginning or it doesn't work at all.

I guess that's one of my writerly quirks. Maybe it's something I'll grow out of, or maybe not. How do you approach your beginnings? Can you bust through a block right from the get-go and carry on without stress? Or do you sit and ponder and rewrite until the story starts just the way you want it to? I'm not saying that I never go back and edit the openings I do like from the start, because I surely do.

The interesting thing (to me, at least) is that my Nanowrimo story starts out in the same place in each revision; it's just the wording that keeps changing. I went from third-person to first-person back to third-person. And as I sit here and type this out, it's dawning on me that a lot of my issues with my story stem from a very basic problem: I do not know enough about my main character (and this ties in well with Colleen's recent entry). Once I pin her down, I think the rest will come much easier.

At the rate I'm going, I don't expect to "win" Nanowrimo this year. As cornball as this sounds, though, I am winning in other ways. I'm pushing myself past my usual comfort zones and I'm writing. It's crap and it's slow going, but I'm writing. And that's what it's all about.


Samantha said...

I have to have my opening sentence at least. If I don't like that, then I just feel like I'm treading water. For me, it typically sets up the whole tone of the story.

Colleen M. said...

Part of why I'm stuck with my current project is that I don't quite know where to begin in the story. I know that the general "rule" is to start by putting your main character in trouble but I'm just not sure what that trouble is going to be just yet.

I can't skip around either - I mean if I have scene I'll put it down but normally I just can't skip around.

Sheila said...

I seem to be getting better at putting a muzzle on my inner editor, because even though there are massive sections of my current NaNo with which I am not happy, I'm not even particularly fretty about any of it. I know it will be there waiting for me to edit next month. This is a big departure for me, because last year I was leaving myself all kinds of notes all over the margins to remind myself of what to do next month.

I highly recommend that, by the way -- use the "sticky notes" feature in Word to leave noted for yourself regarding things to fix later. If you're clever, the notes count toward your total!

And Colleen, I seem to be having the opposite problem: What I'm hearing about my last couple of WIPs is that I'm not giving people time to gain sympathy for my MC before we jump into the action.