Thursday, January 21, 2010

Five things I have learnt...

...while writing my first draft.

1. It is far too easy to get very bogged down in a section you know isn't working as it should. Move on and come back to it at the editing stage. 80,000 words is an achievable target, but not if you constantly rewrite the same part.

2. Some of my best writing has come early in the morning, when nobody else is up. I've never followed Julia Cameron's idea of morning pages, mainly for practical reasons...I like my sleep and I have children to get off to school. There simply was never time. But recently I've been naturally waking early and switching on the laptop. Often the words have flowed and have been better than the sections over which I had laboured.

3. If a scene comes to you out of sequence, write it anyway. I woke up one morning with one scene very clear in my mind. I expanded and wrote it straight away in a separate document, then found it provided all the motivation I needed for my hero and powered the rest of the plot.

4. The characters really do tell you their story. I started off knowing the beginning and end of the plot and a couple of turning points in the middle. The rest came organically as the characters developed further.

5. It's good to fall in love with your main characters. It brings them alive.

12 comments:

SueG said...

These are great. I've found them all to be true, too.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Cathy, this is fabulous post, every point you make is so clear to me and is something I've been experiencing througout the process of writing my book. The characters do indeed tell the story, they had certainly been doing that for me and the scenes which come to you, great advice. I've had this often and wondered what to do. But recently I've been reading advice from various other places too which has more or less said the same thing as you.

Thank you for this information.
CJ xx

Andrea said...

Sounds like the editing is going well.

Cathy said...

Sue- it's lovely to hear another writer finds them to be true. It was all something of a revelation to me.

CJ- I bet you get some spiritual guidance too? But I think the thing is to do whatever works for you.

Andrea- early days on the editing!

Cx

Anne Brooke said...

I heartily heartily agree!! :)) Axxx

Andrea said...

Hey Cathy, you know, I don't think I ever asked what your story was about. Can you share a synopsis?

Cathy said...

Andrea, I haven't written the synopsis yet! But the hook is 'a novel about love, loss and autism'. Will keep you updated...

Amanda said...

Excellent advice, Cathy x

Jenn said...

"80,000 words is an achievable target, but not if you constantly rewrite the same part"

I love that quote... I think I might stick that over my computer monitor. :)

Cathy said...

I hope the quote helps you, Jenn :)

I think it took me over two years to write my first 10,000 words. Now I'm having to a major edit on them because they are so overwritten and the voice is inconsistent with the later parts of the novel!

Jenn said...

I know what you mean. I try to write my drafts as quick as I can - because I know it's all going to need editing anyway, I try to remind myself that getting it down is the most important thing. I heard a saying once, I can't remember who from: 'don't get it right, get it written,' - I try to remember that too, although it's easier said than done!

Catherine Hughes said...

Hi Cathy!

I agree with everything you have said here, although I find my best writing time is often late at night when I can't sleep.

I have found that opening chapters come to me in dreasm and I write them down - even if I am working on something else at the time - as a way of keeping track of all my ideas.

Cat