Monday, February 28, 2011

Thoughts on Beginnings

It's always daunting beginning a new project. When I finally sit down with all of my research, character studies, images, and plot outlines it often overwhelms me. Who's story is it? Will it work best with one point of view? Two? Should I tell it in 1st person? 3rd person? What are the stakes? How can I raise them? How far can I take it. Is that far enough?

And then there's my worst enemy -my inner editor, who from the very first word on the page begins to criticize direction, question word choice and order. My inner editor is such a pain, that I've been known to throw a pillow case over the monitor just to shut him up. Yes. I've done that.

I almost always think I'm going to write a story in 1st person point of view. I'll write 10-15 chapters that way, and then I begin to feel restricted. I start all over again in 3rd person, but now I know my character. I can work the immediacy of 1st person thoughts into my 3rd person POV, and still have the flexibility that 3rd offers. Maybe someday I'll get a whole story down in 1st person and make it work. Maybe it'll be my current WIP. We'll see.

I tend to want perfection from the start. I forget that sometimes it's best to sit back and let the story come. This time I'm going to tell it all the first time, even those parts that won't make the final cut. Give myself permission to ramble. Edit later.  *Puts a reminder post-it on the monitor* Yes, edit later...

I'll leave you with two articles I read this week that I thought worth sharing. They're basic, but sometimes it's good to be reminded of things you know but need to hear again. At least I do.

Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice, by Holly Lisle
Understanding Voice and Tone in Writing, by Julie Wildhaber

Keep writing,
Nora

13 comments:

out of the wordwork said...

Argh. I hear you. Beginnings are usually easy for me but the wip I'm working on now took FOREVER to get the beginning right. Maybe it's because there are two POV's and it's in 3rd which I haven't written for a while. But you are right - you have to shut off that editor and just get the words down. As a famous quote says: Real writing is re-writing.
Good luck!!
Nelsa

Rena said...

I do that, too, and it's hard for me to just write and worry about it later on. Good luck with your story!

Bish Denham said...

Beginnings aren't so hard for me, it's middles. Thanks for the links to the articles, good ones. Really like some of the writing prompts that Holly gives.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I love getting started on a new project, but the endings are what really kill me.

kellyhashway said...

Funny, I just blogged this morning on how I start a new manuscript. Here's the url if you want to check it out.
http://www.kellyhashway.com/apps/blog/show/6297994-careful-planning-or-idea-binge-

Long story short, I do a ton of planning upfront. Oh and like you, I feel the need to edit as I go. I don't stop myself from doing this though. It's how I write. I like having a first draft that's really more like a fifth draft because I've revised/edited so much along the way. It makes revisions a lot easier.

Nora MacFarlane said...

I've done lots of planning and research for this novel -it's what I'm taking to Patricia Lee Gauch's workshop. I'm almost in information overload. I think I'll be fine once I find my starting point. I'm outlining ahead of time, which is new for me. I usually have my beginning, ending and climax figured out, and the rest is by the seat of my pants!

Medeia Sharif said...

I like writing beginnings. But towards the end, when the conflict gets resolved, that's probably when I have to do the most revisions.

sleepinl8 said...

So true: edit LATER. You will be so much more organized by setting a specific stage in the writing process to edit. I know, I do it too, all the time. But I'm learning to just get all the good and fresh ideas down before I forget them. Plus, about the POV: Maybe you could do unlimited 3rd person and switch between characters on alternating chapters. Just an idea. Really depends on who the main character is. Say, for a character who is thoughtful and observant, you would want to choose unlimited 3rd or 1st person. On the other hand, for a character who is part of a crowd and has plenty of dialogue, you would want limited 3rd person.

Anne Spollen said...

I always teach, "Writing IS Revising" - it's sort of a slogan/joke with my students.

So easy to preach, so hard to live...

Rachel Denae said...

Ironic that I randomly found your blog via the "Next Blog" button--I love your pillowcase over the monitor idea! I'll probably incorporate it in my next writing project. Thanks for sharing. ^_^

Charlotte said...

good luck to you. i write all the time, and i enjoy it. but it's difficult, because i do run out of ideas for short stories and poems.

The Septic Tank Blog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nora MacFarlane said...

Medeia - I like writing beginnings because that's when my ideas are fresh... then the work begins!

Kelly - thanks for the link!

Sleepin18 - The more I think about this character, the more I think 1st person might be best. Still thinking on it...

Anne - What grade do you teach?

Rachel and Charlotte - Thanks for visiting! I hope you come back!