Finding the Time to Write
We live in a hectic world where fast pace seems to be the only option to select from. I often found myself with such a desire to write but never the time to do it. I would set out with the outlook of setting aside an entire Saturday to do so, but Saturday came and went and I never had the opportunity to do what I said I was going to do.
There is always something to do: household chores, cooking, shopping, children, family events, and the list goes on and on. I always seemed to put everyone else’s needs before my own or found that the shrubs couldn’t wait to be clipped any longer. I thought perhaps if I changed the day from a weekend day to one of the days during the week, that the outcome would be much better but alas, that too was a great disappointment.
I tried setting up a time every day at 11:00 a.m. to sit for one hour and just write. That strategy worked for about a week and then slowly other things started to monopolize that one-hour time span. I also ran into the problem that even if I would get to sit down in front of my computer at the allotted time, sometimes I just didn’t have the motivation to write because I had no idea what I was going to write.
So, what did I do? Truth be told it took months to figure what worked for me, but in the end, I found something, not a hundred percent effective, but darn close. Instead of blocking out a chunk of time or an entire day, I made a deal with myself to write one sentence per day in my manuscript. No specific time or day, just one sentence at any point in the day. This allows me to think about my story and while I am cooking, cleaning or doing any one of the other thousand to-dos on my list. I was able to conjure up where I wanted the story to go and when the next sentence was ready in my head, I quickly jotted it down.
I have found that more often than not, my one-sentence usually ends up being an entire paragraph. Every day, I feel as though I have accomplished something in my manuscript and sometimes I am extremely happy because it turns into a paragraph.
There are those instances when I find the right sentence, which turns into a paragraph, which ultimately turns into a good solid hour just typing away; before I know it, I’ve completed an entire chapter. Those are good days and I never take them for granted. I do wish, however, that I have the luxury to sit in front of my computer with absolutely no responsibility to worry about. Maybe one day—just not today.
So, if you’re like me and have the passion to write, but just not the time, do yourself a favor and figure it out. Your future manuscript, short story, poetry or whatever it is you want to write is worth it!!!!
How to Eat a Dinosaur Before It Eats You
second installment by MJW
Beginning with Characters
We left off in our last installment making a few decisions before you started your book. Now let’s say you decided you wish to write for an audience, so you wish to publish it at some point in time. And when you started to write, you found the starting was actually difficult. Don’t feel bad about that. Even if you know exactly how you want your story to go, getting the first few pages down is often the most difficult part.
Look at it this way…it is not fixed in stone. So if you start somewhere that you think will lend itself well to the story and later find that it made it much harder for you a chapter into the action—change it. The beginning of the story is one of the most crucial parts…it not only sets the stage for what is to come, but if it is not done in such a way as to capture your audience, publisher, or even your own imagination, it will make the remainder of the book more difficult.
This applies to fiction and nonfiction. If you are writing for an audience, you want to engage them right out of the shoot as the rodeo people would say. So if you are stuck, go to the library or your favorite bookstore and look over some of the books written by authors you like. See how they started their books. What did they say that caught your attention?
Now I don’t mean plagiarism. I mean that you step back from the words and look at the big picture. Did they start the story off with calm, beautiful settings and tranquil descriptions? Well, maybe if it was a travelog, but if you are writing something that will involve people, you might find that they gave you a brief description of the person and then went into an opening conflict or problem. Often they work these two into the beginning.
Why introduce the characters with some information? Well, if you were reading about someone, how would you know how to react to what they do or say if you don’t know anything about them? I have read books and seen movies where you never really got to know the main character or any of the characters for that matter. The storyline and action were all that they portrayed. So when something happened to them or they felt something—I could not tell if this was normal or something to worry about.
So when you tell your story, let your audience know a little about your character. It does not have to be in the first paragraph or even all in the first chapter, but make sure that your audience gets to know what they think and feel about whatever circumstance you put them in and why. For instance—let us say your character received a large bill in the mail, unexpectedly. This can lead to all kinds of reactions…shock, dismay, curiosity, fury…well the list goes on and on.
If we don’t know the characters and their circumstances, we don’t understand why they would react the way that they did…are they poor, rich, married, single, miserly, spendthrift, dying—well you see what I mean. Perhaps you could use that particular happening to show something about your character. The characters are the main reason your audience is following along in the book. If you get bored with your character, the odds are they will be too.
You don’t want to inundate the reader with too much descriptive information, but you do want to slowly introduce a little history or circumstances that surround the character that will then introduce the psychology of the character. You want to let your audience experience what the character is going through. Although they may not empathize with the character, at least they can see the reasoning behind the behavior.
Do some research and thought when you introduce your protagonist and antagonist. Spend time with them in your head and see what you think about them. Even your minor characters need a reason to exist. They also should help to move the plot along, not drag it out.
Hope this is helpful and I will speak with you next time with another installment regarding the menu of dinosaurs. Keep writing!!