Every day, for over a week now, I have spent some time writing my current WIP (work in progress). They say (whoever “they” are) that it takes 21 days of doing something everyday consistently for it to become a habit – whether it is quitting smoking, cutting out soda, or writing.
Matched by Magic is now up to 4200 words and I have started Chapter 3.
One of the strongest advice given to new authors is to just write the book. Create that first draft manuscript. Don’t keep going back over scenes and chapters combing for typos, tense usage problems, and anything else that is wrong. Just keep writing to the end. THEN go back through the manuscript.
I tried doing that, but got hung up half way through Chapter 2. Yeah, that early. I found I had to go back to Chapter 1 and clean it up, then I submitted it to the Share Your Work password-protected section of Absolute Write forums for feedback, and then act on some of the suggestions made. Why?
- If I was making a POV error, I didn’t want to carry that through the rest of the story and then have to deal with the headache of trying to fix that throughout hundreds of pages.
- If I was constructing dialogue wrong, I also didn’t want to carry that through the rest of the story.
- Going back over actually gave me the opportunity to come up with additional scenes, dialogue, plot points (present and future) and more.
As a result, I think I have a richer first chapter of just over 2000 words. I’m sure it’ll need further editing, but that can wait until I’ve finished the first draft. But at least I won’t be embarrassed to have someone read that chapter as it stands.
I have Chapter 2 written, but now I need to go back over it. It’s more tell than show overall, even though I had tried to clean up saidisms (and more saidisms) and add a bit more action surrounding dialogue. I like Mr. Wood’s page on hedging words – something I need to go back and see if I have used them.
With that said, as now I have a better understanding of why it takes authors so long to write books. It is no where as easy as people seem to think. Even the seasoned veterans write a lousy first draft each time they start a story. Just like speeches have to be pre-written to make sure the message is clear and detailed, so do novels. Not only is it about the grammar and punctuation, but it’s also about keeping track of characters, situations, timelines, and in the case of sci-fi and fantasy, new worlds, aliens, mythical creatures, odd names, and more. There’s a lot to keep track of so that the finished product is as error-free as possible.
And that’s all before querying an agent or publisher to see if they want your story! Eeep! =)