Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Getting from Point A to Point B {writerly wednesday}

(taken while at Wheelock College, in Boston MA eariler this year.)

Writerly Wednesday!
Doesn't that sound charming? I don't even know if 'writerly' is a word. But whether or not it is, I am starting a new column on Apassionata, hopefully-every-Wednesday, concerning the grand and glorious (most of the time, anyways) topic of writing!

I figured this blog has gotten to be both neglected and, like me, scatterbrained. Randomness with no rhyme or reason. Hey, I can't even tell you when my next blog post will be!

So. I figured I needed to force myself to be a little more orderly and put-together on this blog.
I am going to try to have a health/fitness/herbalism column, and maybe a guest post now and then.

Today, I want to talk to you about something many of us novel-writers face.

There are many tough spots that we must overcome, in being an author; but one of them which I have been hearing quite a bit about lately is how to get from point A to point B.

Does this scenerio relate to you?

You've written out a plan for your novel. You've mentally pondered upon the details, mulling them over and over again night and day. You already have a plan for exactly what happens to each character. You've planned an intense climax for the middle of the book, and a  brilliant, unexpected conclusion for the ending.
You're absolutely DYING to get to that dramatic scene where your MC clashes with her mortal enemy at the grocery store while picking out sugar-free yogurt. You're itching to write that heart-wrenching part where she loses the love of her life, or maybe the sequence where she discovers what REALLY happened to her long lost parents.
Only problem is, that scene with the mortal enemy doesn't come for at least 5 more chapters. And MC losing the love of her life? It feels like an eternity away before you'll make it to THAT part. You might as well forget about discovering the secret of her parents, at this point.
You're not sure how you'll get to those scenes, and before you know it,  you find yourself stuck in a morass of writer's block.

So what do you do, when this happens? How do you get from point A to point B, and accomplish doing so in an interesting, captivating manner which will hold the reader's attention?

I am not claiming to know it all. I assure you, I have much to learn still.
However, in my four years of writing The Rebels of Florida, I have learned quite a bit about writing, and this problem I have encountered often.

My advice?
  1. If you're stuck at the beginning of the book, and not much is seemingly happening in the story, focus on making sure the reader gets well aquainted with your MCs. Expound upon questions: Why is so-and-so where he's currently at in life? How did he get there? What are so-and-so's goals for life? What does so-and-so believe? Does he have any passions which keep him fired up about life? Is he currently stuck in any predicaments or struggles? While doing this, try not to give all their back story away, as this can be delved into later, and you can always keep your readers guessing in some way or another. Introduce your characters in a way which causes the audience to love them and want to know more about them. Make their character and being distinct and memorable, paint a clear picture in the reader's mind. Build up gradually to the climax. Stick in little clues which, when the reader has finished the book and looked back at the early chapters, will all piece together to form the dramatic conclusion . Tuck in little tidbits which will point to the climax you're anticipating.
  2. If you're stuck at the middle of the book, and that big, dramatic scene with the mortal enemy is literally chapters away, this can be one of the toughest spots. If you're writing a novel based closely upon reality, I would suggest focusing on the MC's life....not the flamboyant, elaborate parts of his life, but the mundane, everyday rituals which he must perform. Stuff which takes up 98% of his life. Because we all know that 98% of our life is going to be everyday routine, and 2% skydiving and chases through the Amazan rainforest. (For most of us, at least.) Unless your character doesn't fit under the 'most of us' catagory, he will be more believeable and relateable if you focus on the peeves he must deal with daily. So he hates washing dishes, but he does it because he wants to help his elderly grandmother. He spends an hour or two everyday mucking out horse stalls because he and his family live on a large farm in nowheresville. Bring out the reality you want to portray for your MCs.
  3. Delve into back story. If you can't think of what to write for chapter 12, consider focusing on the MC's past. Perhaps this is the chapter that she begins to seriously muse what became of her parents, so long ago that nobody remembered the details. 
  4. Something else, that another writer recommended to me not long ago, is to plan out what happens in each chapter. In precise detail. Map out what events unfold in chapter 4. Blueprint what occurs in chapter 25. You can always change or alter the chapter map if you wish. This has helped me greatly, and it helps me feel a ton more organized and relaxed about my book. You might want to just spend an hour or two creating a strong chapter map before you jump back into the actual writing process.    
So these are a few tips. I hope they have been helpful to you writer friend who are reading this. I know that not everyone is writing historical fiction, and I know many lovely people who are writing fantasy and genres completely opposite to historical fiction.
Nonetheless, some of these notes can apply to virtually any genre, in principle.
Each person's writing will vary vastly from another's. Don't try to compare yourself to other people and their work. Your style is your own, and yours alone.


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