Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Hate Starting

I have a love/hate relationship with starting a new novel. I love doing the outline and writing the synopsis. That’s were all the truly memorable stuff happens. After a reader reads a book and someone asks him what the book is about, he is going to relay portions of they outline or synopsis. He won’t remember most of the details of conversations in the book. He may remember a few select scenes, but mostly he will remember the story at a high level. What I hate about starting a new novel is the low word count. When I turned off my computer and went to bed the other day, I had 1,600 words and I hadn’t yet completed chapter one. There’s a lot of words between now and the end.

If you look at the outline and synopsis, what you see are some of the high points. Things like “woman doesn’t have much to say about why she is there, but Sara discovers that the girl is the daughter of someone involved with the movie.” Those twenty-six words could turn into 2,600 words by the time I flesh out the scenes, or it could be a couple hundred. And if it is a couple hundred, what am I going to do to fill in the rest? And how do we turn those twenty-six words into emotionally charged scenes? On it’s own, it has conflict, but we need to stretch that out and crank it tight.

While I may love the concept of a story, I find that I don’t usually love my novel until I’m deep into it. Sometimes I’m in the second draft before I truly love it, but that comes weeks after starting the novel. But start we must, if we ever hope to finish.


The Alliterative Allomorph said...

LOL I know how you feel. I spend so long mapping things out and adding notes here and there that by the time I can't possibly map anymore I can't seem to sit down and write. Personally, I find it's better to just write a rough first chapter before I begin mapping anything. See where my head takes me. That way, when I have finished mapping, I already have a beginning, even if it changes, and it's less daunting!

Timothy Fish said...

The Alliterative Allomorph,

I've sometimes used a similar approach. I don't always know my characters well enough until I've interacted with them. But your mapping process appears to be more extensive than mine. How long does it normally take you to map everything out?

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

It's a bit ridiculous really. I think it'd be better called procrastinating than mapping! I'd spent two months mapping my second book. I've written the first 3 chapters and a very very rough ending. It's been sitting still now for a month, can't seem to bring myself to it again. But it did get interrupted by edits on my first book so I suppose it's ok? LOL I don't know. I think I'm stuck because it's a memoir this time round rather than fiction. I'll get there eventually ... :) How far are you into your book?

Timothy Fish said...

I would say that I'm 16,000 words into it, but I hit a wall and ended up deciding that the cost for Sara wasn't great enough to make it convincing that she would take action to solve the problem. I revamped the outline, but it makes significant changes to what I had already written. I can keep some of it, but much will have to change if I go with the new plot. There may still be a way to improve on the existing plot, but I fear that it is overly complicated and I risk it sounding like a soap opera.