I hate to admit this, but I love beginnings. No, I mean I really love beginnings. That first sentence, first paragraph, first page and maybe even that first chapter; in my mind it’s like starting an exciting new journey. There’s something exhilarating about capturing the feeling, the mood, and the reader in those first few words.
As a writer I seem to have an incessant chatter in my brain of first sentences and first paragraphs, and each time I think to myself, this would make a great novel!
But when I actually sit down to write that novel, I get the first sentence/paragraph down pat, it’s intriguing, compelling, even poetic; it’s like a first love, a new relationship, and then I realize...Yikes, I need to keep this thing going; I need a story here, and then the real work begins.
Short stories work well for someone with my short attention span. Short v Short, get it? But, hey, I want to write a great novel, not a great short story. So, what do I do?
I think one major mistake that is commonly made is to start writing with no idea of where the story is going. In order to sustain the excitement of that first paragraph, I think it’s important to have an outline of the whole novel before you begin. I’ve come to learn that, that is a crucial element. As a writer, you need to have a basic idea of your beginning, your middle (arc), and your ending. And if, before you sit down to write, you can fill in the outline, even to the level of what unfolds in each chapter, then all the better.
Now, this should not be at the expense of the spontaneity of your writing. Half the fun of writing is experiencing how the story line or characters develop as you write them. The outline is just a guide to keep you on the road, like those little bumps along the freeway that assure that the drivers stay in their lane. It also helps with the continuity and balance of your story.
At least that’s what I hear.
Maybe that’s why blogging is so much fun, everyday you get to have a new beginning. Hm, I think I need to start a blog of my own. The question is: will anybody read it? Or do I care, as long as I get to write it? What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process?
The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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