Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Your First

Well, after succumbing to cyber stalking for a short while, I realized that it’s time I turn my attention to more productive forms of playing the waiting game.

So, I’ve started dancing the hokey pokey with the first chapter of my new project.  The first five pages are always the slowest going for me.  It’s where I set up characters, relationships and setting and get a feel for how the rest of the story is going to play out, despite my already-written outline. 

Even though it only takes me about 8 weeks minimum to get a rough draft down, one week of the eight is spent on the first chapter. 

I swear- it’s an average of a page a day in the very beginning.  Why?  Well, my ritual goes something like this:

I knew even as I walked walk…  wait, is this present tense or past tense?

I know even as I headed  head towards the  Dammit!

I knew even as I directed our  click our group towards the…the...the...the what? Where the hell ARE they again?

Emily knew even as she…   oh dear god.

At this rate, I start to wonder how I ever managed to write an entire book in the first place.  Maybe the first three were flukes?  But then I looked back on the post I wrote when I began my third book and realized, this is just how it works for me!

The good news is, once characters, feeling, setting, and voice are in place, the thing usually skyrockets out of control and I spend most of my time running a second behind what my fingers are typing and struggling to bind the whole thing down to the original outline with steel wire so the plot doesn’t go AWOL.

So how does it work for you guys?  Stress first and then ride the tide?  Or go with the flow and then go back and adjust?

42 comments:

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I tend to be really slow to start a story, then once the initial set up is done everything flows a lot better for me. It's just getting those first few pages from my brain into word form :P

Damyanti said...

I've written short stories so far, not novels. For each story the pace is different, some first drafts take off fast, then linger, others vice versa.

All the best for your new project!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I'm like Damyanti. My favorite writing experiences are when the first draft flows with that effortless magic I can't explain, but it doesn't always happen like that. The beginning is definitely the most challenging. Once I get that down, it's (more) downhill from there.

Good luck wit the new project!!

Hey, fun little blogfest on my blog on Feb 16. Stop over to check it out, maybe sign up :))

((hugs)) Nicole

Gina said...

I have the opposite problem. I usually know exactly how I want the story to begin and end, and then I sit in front of the computer and drool trying to fill in the rest (not literally drooling, but I might as well be!)

And I stop to question the tense I'm using CONSTANTLY!

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

I get totally hung up on the beginning. But once it's working, and everything clicks, I know it. And then the words fly onto the page!

Dare to Follow Your Heart

Angela Felsted said...

Depends on my mood. If I can turn off my internal editory then I write pretty fast, but every word sucks. If I write with my internal editor, I struggle, struggle to get through chapters, but the writing is usually better.

Anne Gallagher said...

My first drafts usually start out with a conversation. Then I have to figure out why the characters have that conversation. I like dialogue but hate the narrative. It's like pulling teeth for me to write the 'why'.

Laura Pauling said...

My current wip I started four different times. Once as a verse novel. But it took all those attempts to find the right voice and approach. And you're right, once I found that the writing went a lot faster. But at the time...arg.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Um, I don't remember. I apparently blocked that memory. Must have been painful. ;)

I wrote the first page back when I got the idea for my mc's voice. Plus I was toying with the idea of writing it in present tense (this was before Ellen Hopkins told me to rewrite the project I'm now querying in present tense). This made it much easier when I was ready to start the first draft months later (I did the preplanning during a break with my other project). Other than that, I don't remember too much about writing the first draft.

Jen Daiker said...

I write like a speed demon and deal with the garbage later. If I worry about past tense/pre tense throughout the writing process I'll never get a draft done. When that happens, writer's block climbs in my soul and tears me apart (not cool).

Nope. Instead I write... finish the draft in two weeks and then try and iron out the mess.

I'm so excited about the A-Z Challenge?! It was something I had taken part in last year and couldn't help but join the fun again this year! I hope you join us!

Áine Tierney said...

I always wrote painfully slowly, but I found doing Nanowrimo brilliant for controlling my inner editor. I really feel it freed me up. Fun post.

Old Kitty said...

I go with the flow and adjust later!!! It's in the editing that I tend to do what you do too - I'm still stuck in chapter 3 of my millionth draft as I question every sentence and do the hokey pokey! LOL!!

Take care
x

Jessica Bell said...

I despise beginning something new. I feel like a failure! But I eventually get there. You know, like, a year later ;-/

Summer Frey said...

I'm pretty much slow and steady, always. I can bust out my 50k during NaNoWriMo, but it's tough. Left to my own devices, I'll write between 500-2,000 words a day. I triple-think each sentence before I type it, and even then often reword. I can't just go off the cuff. Can't. Won't. Nope nope nope.

Candyland said...

I pretty much stress through the whole thing. Even if I'm writing only for me, I want to nail it (not, um, innuendo)

Martin Rose said...

For what it's worth, I do the same thing with my tenses . . . :/

Erin Kane Spock said...

This is book 3 and I decided to be organized this time, but it's not starting out any better. I feel like I'm doing character development that I will end up editing out later and I keep waiting for momentum to build so I can really start writing.
I've written 3 chapters, so just under 40 pages. Technically that's about 10% of the book, but I don't think the story has really begun yet. Good to know other writers struggle at the starting line.

salarsenッ said...

Are you in beginning story hell, too? OMGosh, my first two chapters (still need editing) but I definitely have a story--according to my crits. So then I decide to get creative and write the query letter aka blurb. Yeah, love it, but it doesn't totally match the ideas I had for the story. Ugh...I'm stumped. Help!!

Matthew Rush said...

You have to look at this post I saw yesterday. CRAP! Where was it. I have to remember.

...

... found it. It was another of Casey's tips:

http://caseylmccormick.blogspot.com/2011/01/tip-tuesday-73.html

Elena Solodow said...

I'm a "flow-girl", and yes, that does sound disgusting if you don't know what I'm referring to.

Laura Maylene said...

I definitely go with the flow and get the entire draft down before worrying about the nitpicky stuff. But that doesn't mean I also don't stress out a lot about everything, too.

Carolyn Abiad said...

The beginning was the last thing to work out for me in the first MS. I'm working on a second MS now and I have a scene that sort of blossomed out of the query. Not that it will necessarily be the beginning when I'm done....

Julie said...

I'm with you! I'm rewriting my Nano novel and it's taken me two days to write two pages and I still might scrap it.
I know how so much of the story will play out but I need to get a feel for things first and it's slow going.

Hart Johnson said...

It's so funny how different we all are, isn't it? I just dive. My first couple settings for a book are my very fastest--10,000 words in 2 days fast... I stew so long before I start that it is like the cork has popped and it is spilling everywhere.

MIDDLE is where it gets rough because I am not stricti enough in following my PLAN in the first half and so at about the midpoint, I need to start gathering back toward the ending. (and I ALSO take about 8 weeks through a first draft... so we both finish together)

Raquel Byrnes said...

Wow...I am totally opposite. I start writing with an idea that's been percolating for a while...THEN, about six chapters in...I plan like crazy for like a month. Outlines, plot blocks, character threads.

Then I go back and it all makes sense because I have the first part done, an inciting incident, and a notebook fool of really type-A notes.

I usually take 4 months, research to revisions to get a book done. Three a year...its hard...but I love it of course!

Talli Roland said...

I find beginning quite easy and fun - it's like I'm riding the excitement of a fresh project. The middle is where I usually start to flounder, even if I have an outline.

Organic Meatbag said...

I put my right foot in, I put my right foot out, I put my right foot in, and I shook it all about... I danced the hokey pokey and I turned myself around, and that's what it was all about... that dance always left me unfulfilled...

Christopher said...

I definitely need to get in the swing of things first.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I just pick a place to start the story and write. Then I'll go back over the beginning... and over and over and over again. Beginnings give me nightmares. But if I tried to make the beginning perfect from the get go, I would never finish that story.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I just tend to write and get the story out. It really depends on the mood I'm in though. If my inner editor is bugging me, I'll go back and change something. But I don't change lots until edits/CP feedback

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I didn't have any trouble jumping into the first draft of The Caged Graves, but my most recent WIP flopped after 5 chapters. :(

I now have new ideas for that story, including a new way to begin it. And I also have a brand new shiny idea for a completely different story.

But after my most recent crash and burn, I'm a little gun-shy about starting either one of the new projects. I've been fooling around revising another manuscript (AKA, hanging out with old friends) but I really need to buckle down and start a new draft.

Maybe you will inspire me!

DL Hammons said...

I've done this two times now, and i drag more in the middle. I'm usually so excited about the new project that I'm like a lead ball out of a cannon when I start. But I'm an outlined also, and that may make a difference. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

LOL, I can already tell I like you!

I am one of those who gets an idea and just starts writing. The problem with that is, you get about 25-50 pages in and realize you have no freakin' idea where you're going with this story. I think there's a lot to be said for planning ahead.

Angela Scott said...

Beginnings aren't usually my problem. It's the stupid endings that kiss my arse. Every novel of mine, I struggle to end it. Right now, on my current WIP, I have only two chapters left to write and so what do I do . . . I follow blogs and comment on blogs and anything else to distract me from what really needs to be done.
By the way, your humor is fantastic. So funny.

Colene Murphy said...

8 weeks?! That's awesome!

Melissa said...

Beginnings are always the hardest for me too

Angelina Rain said...

The beginning is easy for me. The first three or four chapters fly out of me like lighting through a thunder storm. Then I get to the middle and it feels like waiting for rain in a desert. I hate the middle. It takes me forever to write it.

Kate said...

I tend to write my way into the story. I usually end up binning the first chapter or even two and starting somewhere further on in the story. Often those first pages are really just me and my MC getting to know each other. :-)

Carolyn V. said...

I go with the flow and then go back and adjust (with a ton of procrastination mixed in between). =)

Lisa Potts said...

I write furiously for the first 1/3 and usually without any real problems. Then I hit the BIG BRICK WALL that is the middle of the damn story, and it takes me several days, even weeks, to figure out how to get to the ending I've been sure about since before I even knew the beginning. Oh, God, I'm rambling. Sorry! : )

Kelly said...

I do think the first chapter is hard because there is so much pressure on it. That will be what agents read at first. You need the hook, the great first sentence, etc.
Once I get started, it flows, but then I go back and stress about it!

Caitlin said...

I have kind of the opposite problem. I can bash out those first few pages and chapters in no time, and that's when it hits me that maybe everything isn't quite as perfect as I was hoping. I then fight the urge to go back and re-write, do some extra outlining, and then when I'm finished I go back in for the overhaul!

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