makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Yesterday evening, I experienced that rarest of occurrences between the parents of young children: a conversation that wasn't about the kids, their school, or our house (and usually what needs to be fixed). Amazing! And one of the things that we talked about was writing because he'd noticed, when trying to find a file on our laptop, that during my morning of writing, I'd opened about ten documents. What he wanted to know was how did I decide what to write about on a particular day and was I writing in chronological order. Over the last month or so, a couple of friends have asked me about my writing habits, and seemed quite surprised by my answers, which has made me realise that there are many ways to write a novel. What might seem natural or obvious to one writer is anything but to another. This may or may not interest you, but I thought I'd share my process...

I write in longhand in notebooks and then when I have my next opportunity to write, I type my scrawled words onto my laptop. My novel is currently divided into characters and within these sections each scene has its own title. This is just for my own purposes and will probably change once I have the bulk of my first draft and can start playing. I have a clear idea of the plot (although not the end yet...) and of the part of the story each character will tell. I know what the major scenes will be, but the other ones are largely a mystery to me, until I put pen to paper and something almost magical occurs. Often, when I sit down to write, I have no idea what I will write about. There's the briefest moment of panic and then a word or an image or a sentence creeps into my head and I'm off! From time to time, I compile a list of scenes that I need to write and this can be great for those mornings when I'm feeling creatively sluggish. Then, I have to force myself to begin, perhaps with just a few notes that will then generally flow into sentences and paragraphs and pages. Surprisingly, they can be the most productive sessions.

I'm not writing chronologically because I find this really boring and because I'm not yet sure of all the details. To dip in and out of time and place and character's heads seems to be the way I solve some of the "problems" of the narrative. That said, I'm still not entirely sure how the story will end. I'm holding back on this partly because I don't completely know where my protagonist is heading (it's a cliche but I guess I'm on the journey with her), and also because this tension is feeding my excitement and sense of curiosity, and pulling me on through the writing of the first draft. I've written around 35,000 words, so I'm half way. It's getting harder because I'm writing the more difficult scenes that I've avoided up until this point, and also the ones that connect everything. It feels like I'm going deeper into the story, unearthing the details of the characters' lives, and the more subtle elements of their interactions.     

                                          

2 comments:

  1. So much synchronicity here - I am also writing a novel and write in a similar way - not chronological but I know what scenes I want to write and have been avoiding the tough ones. And I have that same scrapbook from Paperchase! x

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    Replies
    1. That's funny! I bought it 2 years ago when we were in England (I miss Paperchase). Good luck with those tricky scenes....

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