Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Beginning

I had time to write today. :)

I think I shall just sit and bask in that sentence, because I don't have that time very often.  And not only did I have time to write, but we were snowed in, all Saturday activities were cancelled, and Handsome Hubby had thought ahead enough to procure coffee and donuts for the morning.  (I know.  I'm smitten just writing it.)

So since I resolved to Write the Darn Book this January, I find myself going about things in a completely different and much more enjoyable way than I usually do.  First, I took a month to just research and plan. (And write report cards.  And more report cards.  And did I mention report cards?) 

Second, I am letting the characters speak to me.  Reading so many writing blogs, I have heard over and over that writers find that the story is asking to be told, or that the characters let them know what's right along the way.  In many of my previous attempts at something like writing, I have hit areas where I definitely felt like I was forcing the story, and that was sort of the kiss of death; the beginning of the end.  This time is the first time that I really feel like the characters are not caricatures of a person, they are not the medium by which the story is told, but rather they are the story.  I am sensing their feelings and their reactions like they are real people.  And it feels so much better.  I'm not quite sure what stood in the way before, but I feel like something has really changed in my approach, and it's definitely a good thing.

Third, I have not begun at the beginning.  Everything else I've written has always begun at the beginning.  In previous writing, I've had some great opening lines and opening scenes, and even planned out the rest, but didn't have the story momentum to get there.  This morning, I woke up with a scene in my head as clear as day.  I had to keep it there for three hours, between the time I got up with the kids (it was HH's turn to sleep in, my turn comes tomorrow, we trade off on the weekends, even though sleeping in is often only until 8:30 or 9.. .still a big difference from the weekday 5:45 alarm!) and the time HH woke up.  When he did get up and settled in with the girls, I came up and started to write.  And the scene I wrote was, interestingly enough, maybe not quite halfway through the story.  I have never done that before.  I just had such passion for that scene (thank goodness my female protag finally gave me her name... at least her first name), it had to be written.  (So for those of you keeping score, first scene, first 880 words... I only have to do that about 50 more times, lol). 

Now I am thrilled because that scene revealed so much to me about my protagonist and another important character that I feel like writing everything up to that scene will be so much clearer, and I can always add scenes later in the book because I have an important checkpoint in place.  I have never jumped around like this in  my writing, and we'll see if it makes the story more disjointed (fun editing ahead) or it actually works because I have a clearer sense of who and what is to come.

Oh, and.... I had time to write today!!! :D

(On a side note, Curly Jones was an absolute Terrible Two today... she peed on the carpet five times, directly after sitting nonchalantly on the potty each time and doing nothing... and she has had very few accidents during the day this past week.  On top of that, she picked up her cup of water at lunchtime and just turned it upside down so that the entire thing spilled all over the table, she yelled at me when I was trying to clean up that she wanted to do it, and don't even get me started on the bear that she was at naptime.  It was pretty funny, though, when she said to me, "Mommy, I'm not terrible (a word I had not used)... I'm just verrrrrrrry silly!"  Oy.  Thank goodness she is usually not like this, lol....)


Cindy said...

Wow, it sounds like you've found a good approach to getting your story going.

I used to write scenes as they came to me and I'd always struggle with the beginning of the novel. It usually took me until about page 100 to really get into and then everything took off from there. Now, I research and plan and outline my stories and the beginning takes off like the end used to. But I seem to stall a bit in the middle...well you can't win them all :D

I understand the potty training frustration. We had pee on the carpet, too, and in the kitchen on the tile...but the little one is finally getting the hang of it. She does great during the day now--it's the nighttime training we have to tackle next! Have a great weekend!

Michelle Gregory said...

wow! all that happening with a toddler and you still had time to write. yay for you!

Tiffany Neal said...

Oh, how I loved this post. That is so great that your characters are speaking to you. It is such an amazing feeling to have them tell the story to you. And, in the MS I just finished writing, I have skipped around like crazy. I had a dream which led me to write the middle. Then I went back to the beginning. Then the end. And a few more times back through the middle again! :)
I love that you found me! Teacher, Mommy, and Author. We just don't do enough! LOL!

Katie Ganshert said...

Hi Lindsey!

Oh, so great to meet another teacher/writing/mama! Our lives are busy, aren't they? And GROAN, I have to write report cards this week. I so feel you with that one. Thanks for popping on over to my blog. I hope to see you around!


Jemi Fraser said...

Report cards are around the corner for me - so much fun :)

Glad to hear your story is clicking - it's such a great feeling!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

"I have not begun at the beginning."

Love this! It sounds like the opening line to a novel. The scene that pulls you into your novel is always the perfect scene to begin with. Good luck with the journey!

Jaime said...

Totally loved your paragraph about letting the characters speak to you. Mine have found their voice too, only now that they're talking to me, it's a little creepy ;)

Christine Danek said...

I have learned that you need to let the story flow from you not force it out. When I force it out it turns out horrible. Sometimes my patience gets the best of me though.
I can sypathize with your cute rendition about your kids.

I gave you an award on my blog :)

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Hi guys! Thanks for your kind comments. I am just so happy that things are flowing. :)

Cindy - It sounds like you have a good system. I have always been a plotter and planner and start-from-the-beginninger, and I found that I lost interest in my own story once the whole thing was planned out. Oops! It's funny (but great!) how different approaches work for different people.

Michelle - LOL, I know! Between working and running my 7 yr old all over creation and toddlerdom in general... I have to make the time. It doesn't always work. :)

Tiffany, Katie, & Jemi - I am soooo glad to find some kindred spirits. :) Yay teacher-writer-moms! Don't know how you guys do it, either... I just squeeze writing time in at the oddest moments sometimes.

Carolina - Thank you! Wait a sec... darn, maybe I wasted an opening line... lol :D

Jaime - LOL!!! Me too!

Christine - I completely agree. I have forced. And it was bad. Things seem to be working themselves out this time, it's a completely different feeling for me. Very exciting!

Thank you guys so much for visiting my blog - I am so grateful for this incredible support system of writers!!!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Congrats! Isn't it great when we actually have time to do what we love! : )

Good luck!

Jon Paul said...

Hi Lindsey--Your choice (or Muse's choice) of a middle scene to start is interesting; I've heard stories about some novelists--I think Tom Wolfe is one--who write the last line or last scene of the novel first, and then that becomes a target for further progress.

Happy to hear you've got some progress of your own. That's great news!

Also, I laughed about your Terrible Two story. I have a two year old too, so I can relate.

Finally, thanks again for the follow!

Guinevere said...

Hello! I have something for you on my blog. :)

The Rejection Queen said...

Thank you for stopping by blog. I am really loving yours right now :) For me, I had time to write this weekend but with all the drama going on in my life, I could hardly write one sentence. It was like I had writer's block but I didn't. Good luck with your writing, I'm sure you will make it I'm not sure...I KNOW you will make it through. You have to or you might as well give up right?

Shelley Sly said...

This is a great post, and very true. The beginning is always the hardest for me (as is finding character names, as I see in your previous post.) Congrats on getting time to write today. It always feels wonderful to have one of "those" days. :)

I've seen you around the writing blogs here and there, but I clicked on your profile from Rejection Queen's blog (who posted above me, Hi!) and thought I'd drop in. You write well, and I look forward to reading more.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I love waking up to realizations like the one you had. The worst is trying to fall asleep when they are comin' at you.

I often get them in the shower.

Great title for this post. Caught my eye.
~ Wendy

Kimberly Franklin said...


I left you a little something on my blog today. : )

Click here to visit Kim Franklin’s blog!

Happy Monday!!!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Jon Paul - Yeah, it's weird, I haven't written from the middle before... but it seems to be working! :) Yay!

Thanks, Guinevere and Kim! :D

Rejection Queen, I LOVE your blog! I have not sent out any queries yet because I'm nowhere near that, so reading your letters completely fasincates me. Thank you for sharing! I hope your crazy roommate situation is resolved soon. :/ I had some of those... ugh...

Hello, Shelley! So happy that you visited! I will definitely stop by your way!

Wendy, I totally agree - I get all of my best ideas in the shower, too!