Telling Yourself the Story

Manuscript News

Honestly, I’ve had a great writing week. I hit 65,000 words — a milestone for me, because that was my very first, completely clueless, word count target for this novel. Looking back that’s an absurdly low count for a fantasy novel. I knew it was then, but I tried to rationalize it as this story is technically a low fantasy, the setting wouldn’t require that much description as the focus would be on the narrative.

Yeah, I don’t know what possessed me to think that a custom built fantasy world wouldn’t need a lot of description, but I was dead wrong.

Anyway, I hit a good stride this week. I slowed down a little yesterday thanks to my anxiety and a smash cold taking over my sinuses, but I’m hopeful to get back into it today. I’m just about to crest a hill and start hurdling down the other side toward the end, and I’m so NERVOUS. AND EXCITED. NERVICITED.

nervicited.gif


The Weekly Struggle

It’s not all been sunshine and roses, though. The latest three or four scenes have flown out of my pen as if it had a mind of it’s own. However easy the words have come to me, they have also put me in a bit of a bind narratively. Not only have I committed the cardinal sin of telling, instead of showing, I have jumped the gun on a conflict I intended for the sequel.

When I realized what I had done, I admit, my enthusiasm deflated a little. The majority of the 5000 words I have done this week will have to be either be rewritten or cut completely. And that’s kind of a bummer. I was really proud of the work I had put in and really felt like I was propelling myself along nicely toward the climax. To realize it would all be for nothing… yeah. I took a little break after that.

And it’s a good thing I did, because I was laying in bed, gloomy, wondering if I should just tear ten pages out of my notebook and start fresh, when I remembered my second favorite writing tip.

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. – Terry Pratchett.

Oh my gosh, the relief I felt. The weight that lifted, the joy that returned. If I could, I would have tattooed those words on my eyelids so that I would never forget them again.

It’s okay that my character is literally telling her friends things that I really should be showing in the narrative, because these were things I was figuring out as I was writing them. It’s okay that I wrote myself into a corner that I’ll have to cut and paste somewhere else later, because getting the details figured out now can only help me foreshadow them for the future.

I am telling myself the story, discovering it’s nuance and it’s flavor as I go. None of this time is wasted, because I am learning so much from it. All of this is a perfectly normal part of the first draft phase and I really shouldn’t be beating myself up over it.

Maybe it’s because I’m an inherent plotter that made this truth such a struggle to accept. I have always tried to keep an open mind about my outline, allowing it to expand beyond the borders I originally drew for it. But, for better or for worse, I always thought I knew where I was going and how I was going to get there. This latest sequence of scenes was a curveball I hadn’t been prepared to deal with.

Writing a novel truly has been more of a learning experience than I ever expected, in more ways than can be counted. This latest lesson has returned a sense of joy I had lost as I got bogged down in the Great Soupy Middle. I had forgotten that this was meant to be a journey for me, too, not just my characters or the people that one day might read the story.

Cheers, Terry.


I’ve been remiss in my reading this week. I’ll try and get back on the horse next week! That’s all from me for now. Time to get back to writing.

Kerry Share

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