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.