We all know the part. Whether it’s movies, books or tv shows, often the story builds up all the intrigue and mystery until a breaking point, where all the answers burst forth. This can be satisfying, or overwhelming, or confusing, or boring. All depending on how well you do it.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World seems to be doing it through pages and pages of dialogue. One character explaining to another, in great detail, all the things that have been going on, is not as interesting as it could be. Well, I can tell by the look in your eye that you’ve never seen the man with nothing to say. But it doesn’t mean it all has to be talking!
It’s hard to avoid these exposition scenes, or explanation scenes. But I really dislike them. As a result, lots of my writing probably ends up confusing or vague. But I think I’d rather something be a little confusing, over a lot of telling.
Maybe a matter of personal taste!
Before I get to work on cleaning up the novel I just finished, I think I’d do good to ‘cleanse my palate’ so to speak. So I’m aiming to write a couple short stories to take my mind off it. I am already halfway through one (I hope).
There’s nothing quite like the freedom of a blank page. I look at it, and don’t know quite what to say. I haven’t seen you in seven ages, blank page! It’s such a nice feeling, knowing I can write anything. Any idea that appeals to me, any character, any random thought. A blank slate to fill with whatever I want!
But, I’m also coming to realize that shorts don’t seem as fun to me anymore after writing something so long and involved. You can’t get deep into ideas or feelings or anything really, without a lot of pages to work with.
So, after a couple shorts, it will be on to the next novel! And it’s going to be something completely new and unrelated to the previous one. No series for me.
I’m still being awed by The Crimson Petal and the White. Even though there is not much going on as far as plot or intrigue goes, the characters are more than enough to keep me interested. It’s not in the way they look, or the things they say or do–they are just so well described, so completely real as people that I find myself liking and caring about them no matter what they are doing.
Real people not only have quirks and mannerisms and so on, but also have ambitions, dreams, goals–whether they are relevant to the story at large or not.
Anyway, I think I’m learning a lot about how to make a vivid, likable character from reading this…
I recently went to lunch with some coworkers, and while we were eating an elderly woman fell and hit her head. An instant after it happened, two of my coworkers rushed to her side and were helping her up. They sat and talked with her till the ambulance came. None of the other perhaps 30 people nearby moved an inch. Including me.
I could give the excuse that I was on the inside of a booth and couldn’t easily get out, or that I don’t know anything about first aide or talking to people (sure I could lie to myself too, but that won’t work seeing that I’ve tried.) But that, or something similar, is probably what everyone else in the restaurant was thinking. There are always plenty of reasons not to take action.
You should take for granted that no one else is going to act–not the reverse. Because that’s how people are. Someone else will do it, we think. Someone else is more qualified. Someone else will do a better job. Change these automatic thoughts, and replace them with responsibility. It’s up to you to do what needs to be done.
So do it!
I have finally typed a writer’s two favorite words.
First draft is complete, and my mind has entered a tug of war with itself, trying to decide between brainstorming the next novel, or a short story or three, or getting right to work on rewrites and edits–though, I should probably wait a few weeks for that, it is so hard to see the truth with the sun in your eyes.
But the feeling of satisfaction is so intense! I have tried and failed so many times, that it is quite the euphoric sensation to finally complete a project like this. Now, I know I can do it. Now I’m confident I can do it again, and again forever.
Even if nothing comes of this first novel, I have done it, and there is value in that!
As I near the end of a first draft on my first novel, I can’t help but look back over all my other failed attempts.
There was the vampire novel, which I started writing 12 or 13 years ago, in my early 20’s. I got to about 30k words before Twilight gained popularity, and I got discouraged thinking ‘vampires are overdone now.’ Boy was I wrong…
There was the brief attempt at a fantasy novel, that I gave up on after a little over 20k words because I listened to a lecture on novel writing by Brandon Sanderson and decided I’d done everything wrong.
There was the super-hero / mutant powers novel I got to around 20k words on before I realized I had no plan and way too many characters with no over all goal and no point for the thing to even exist other than ‘cool powers’.
There was the sci fi novel I started as something for me to type on when I had nothing to do. That got to around 40k words before I was distracted by something else (what I’m currently writing) and never went back to it. It’s not terrible, and maybe I’ll try to finish it some day. But it also has the problem of no plan, no goal, and everything happening on the fly.
So! All the above goes to show that just because you fail doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again. And again, and again. It’s worth the pain that makes the tears. Eventually, you’ll find the story that wont let you stop writing it.
Don’t give up!
The idea of writing a novel seems way too big when you think about it as a whole. But take baby steps, and you’ll get there, one tiny shuffle forward at a time. Try not to think of it as a huge project. If you keep thinking you better watch that sword that’s hanging over you, it will be a long hard road.
I remember as I was writing my current project early on, I kept telling myself it was just a short project, just a few thousand words more to go. As it grew and grew I was only focusing on the next thing to do, the next few thousand words, the next couple scenes, without considering all the massive amounts of work ahead. That way, I didn’t drown.
As I get used to longer things instead of short stories, I’m sure this state of mind won’t be necessary. But as I have not much experience writing huge things, I have to keep myself focused on the little picture.
With baby steps, you can do anything!