Truth and Dare

Truth: Although trying to tell the readers as much as you can about the story and its characters may seem to fasten the pace as you write the novel, it actually drags down the story.

A couple of days ago, my family and I went to Six Flags: Discovery Kingdom instead of the camping trip we have been planning for forever. It was really fun. I haven’t been there since the eighth grade field trip. I ate funnel cake, went on pretty much ALL the thriller rides…I even found the raft ride (which is so freakin’ hard to find. I had to ask five workers with the map in hand just to find the ride). From 10 in the morning until 9 at night, it was non-stop riding and eating.

It wasn’t so much fun for my mom. Unlike the rest of us – we slowly built up the “levels” of the rides – my mom’s first ride was on V2, a ride that goes upside down the majority of the time. It was too much for the first ride and she ended up sick. She even left the park soon after because of it.

This is something some writers do to the readers. Instead of building up the intensity of the conflict/story/characters/ect, the writer goes straight to the action (which may or may not work), info dump, or have a story with so much impact in the beginning, the more the reader reads, s/he ends up disappointed because nothing could compare with the beginning. When the writer does this, like my mom, the reader will get sick of reading the rest and would go home (or in this case, put the book down).

And that’s something we writers do not want to do.

So…

Truth: Too much, too fast = makes the reader sick

Dare: Although it may seem TOO slow to you as you write, slowly build up the characters and conflict. Read the story out loud to see if it flows. Have someone read it and ask your CP if the pacing seems off.

Starting a new project

“Do you remember how it felt, wearing shoes for the very first time?”

That was what I asked my friend one day before track practice. She gave me a very weird look and blankly said, “No. I’m a senior. I was probably two years old when I first put shoes on.”

I laughed and explained why I asked the question in the first place. Before I went off to the track and talked to my friend, I was putting my track shoes on at my locker. I wasn’t really paying attention- the process was repetitive. I knew how to put on shoes. But then, there was some sort of oddness. My shoes felt as if it was trying to conform my foot into a new direction. It kind of tingled.

But I ignored it and put on my other shoes, without looking, and searched through my bag for the sunscreen (which was ridiculous, now that I think about it. There wasn’t even any sun out that day). I walked.

After half way out of the hallway, I finally got fed up with the weird footness (yeah, that’s now a word) that was going on and looked down, ticked off that I probably injured my foot so I couldn’t run that day.

No, no. It wasn’t anything like that. I just put the shoes on the wrong foot. Opps.

Okay, before this makes me sound completely stupid and irrelevant to the writing process, there is a point.  

Writing is like putting on shoes (bet you didn’t think I was going to say that, now did you?). You may not remember when or how or why you started writing, you may have just that tinkling remembrance of the joy you felt in writing your first manuscript. And then, when you were done and ready for your new project (or your revisions or editing or rewrites stage), it may just as well feeling as if you had put your shoes on wrong. You’re going to feel as if you remember knowing how you wrote drafts before- you have been working on it for years. Or, if it was your first time writing a story, you at least wrote in school for how long now? Twelve years? It should be easy.

But staring at a blank page? Frightening and odd. You just gotten used to a page filled with amazing tiny words. The feel of the keyboard under your fingers? Silly. Your fingers used to fly across the board…why is it now skittering hesitantly?

You may feel stupid. “How did I even write this last time?” you might say in annoyance. You may give up because it felt so uncomfortable and weird and new.

But this is me saying don’t give up. Take a step back. Breath. Look down. You may just need to do a little bit of adjustment, switch the shoes back to its proper place, and soon, you’ll be running.

-Choppy

How do you feel when you start a new project? Any advice you’d like to give to other writers about tackling the first draft?