I started reading Al Watt’s book, the 90 Day Novel. If you’re not familiar he has you read a new entry every day for 90 days and then write. He provides a list of free writing – stream of consciousness questions to help you get going, not only on writing, but on thinking about what you plan (or don’t plan) to write. He’s very encouraging throughout the whole process, enabling you to feel like it’s alright if you don’t know where you’re going with the story. That was certainly my issue. His words helped me to trust my characters to begin leading the story line and amazingly, that really helped.
My antagonist was a nasty sociopath and once I gave him reign to go where he wanted, boy did he. By the third time he makes an entrance, he’s beating the heck out of two guys and not giving a damn about it. In fact, he likes it. My hero, Skye, begins to display fears and blocks she uses unconsciously to avoid taking chances and there in lies a dilemma, as she is thrust into circumstances that absolutely require decisions and well thought out ones, to avoid being hurt or even dying and yet, she relies on others to help her, lacking the confidence or courage to make moves herself. I started to know and like both characters better. It was exciting.
Often Al wrote that it was okay to write bady . The important thing was to write, a phrase echoed by other writers over and over. I would remind myself as I continued to remember that on days when I felt what I’d written was just kaka. So here on this blog I’ve decided to just write and not worry if a few mistakes are left in or if the prose isn’t scintillating.
Al says in his book not to let anyone read your work as you progress. I totally get that. People, even well-meaning people, are going to give you their impressions. Those opinions are not always helpful, in fact they can hold you back if not presented constructively or even if they are, you may wonder what on earth you are doing trying to write a novel…especially if you are like me with next to no training or classes to bolster your belief that you can do this. On the other hand, a critique group with at least some seasoned writers, can effectively provide you with all kinds of beneficial feedback.
So do you share or not? I didn’t for most of the book, but once I started I was always improving my work. I’ve come to trust my colleagues and believe they have my best interests in mind so their help is invaluable to me now.
My first chapter opened up an area that the story line had to follow. That direction soon led to more characters, more directions and ideas for the story. I was off and running .