Writing, to me, can be described like a relationship.
I’m 48K into my current WIP, but the problem is, I’ve been hovering around that 47K mark for about a month. I’m in a writing lull. I’m not sure I’d go as far as calling it Writer’s Block (I just don’t feel that actually exists. And more on that at a later date) but I’m definitely in a rut. So instead of working on my WIP (which I most definitely should be doing) I’ve decided to write this post, both to make a point, and to help myself work through my writing lull.
Since my original idea has kind of spiralled into something greater than even I could have imagined we’ll break things up. Come back and learn why writing a novel is just like a relationship, with highs, lows and breakups J
Stage One: Single
For argument sake, though I never spent much time single, nor do I spend much time in this stage of writing, we’re starting here.
Single is outlining (In my opinion) When we are single this is when we dream, we plan and we come up with ideas. We dream what our lives should—and will be like. We dream about that and plan, and of course we come up with ideas on how to make those plans and dreams materialize before our eyes. Well, that’s exactly what you do when you outline for a novel. You start with a dream, maybe it’s to write a new novel, or finish an old one. You move onto planning, you imagine what the novel is going to be like, how it’s going to happen, what’s going to happen. Also, planning and dreaming tend to go hand in hand, and can be done at the same time. Next, you go onto ideas, writing them down until an outline is born. You’ve taken the plan of writing, the dreams and the ideas and turned it into an outline for what could just be your magnum opus.
Stage Two: Dating
When you start out writing once the outline is done (if you’re into that sort of thing, which I’m not. I tend to write on the fly with minimal notes) and you sit down to put those ideas into motion, it’s like dating. You’ve found something you like, the idea is there, but you still need to test the waters. I tend to take things slow. Write a few hundred words here, write a few hundred there, building up the “writing relationship.” Because most of my idea’s randomly come to me, I still need to find my characters voice, it might come right away (love at first sight, perhaps) and I’m off and running. But sometimes I need to write a chapter this way, or that way (going from one prospective partner to the next) to find the perfect voice.
So goes for the image I have in my head of each character, their descriptions (you know, blonde hair, blue eyes, six pack) Sometimes I’ve seen them in dreams, I can commit right away, other times I’m not sure. So I try my character voice with different images I build up. Maybe Voice A. works great with hot and sexy man B., but wait, hunk D. is the perfect match of what I think my character should look like, but his voice, his style and personality, isn’t quite perfect.
They say (or at least I do) shopping for partners is like trying on shirts, you just have to find the perfect one that goes with your pants (or skirt) well the same goes for choosing characters and voice, you need to switch the two up until you find the perfect ensemble—the perfect doctor, who’s also out-doorsy, funny and well let’s not forget, super hot and full of awesomeness.
Lastly in this stage is setting, which plays a huge part in both dating and writing. You’re finally ready to commit to that first date. You’ve put your ideas into motion, you’ve snagged the partner, and now, you plan the location where you will rendezvous.
I like to keep things simple. I tend to use a few stable locations in each and every novel. I have fictional cities that I’ve thought up, and know like the back of my hand, so I always start there. But like a perfect date, sometimes they just don’t always work out. I’ve assumed my characters like the local coffee shop, but after a while, I realize it’s just not right. It doesn’t go with the idea, it doesn’t go with the characters, it’s just plain wrong. Well, when you leave a location up to someone else, they may just take you to a dingy diner that they happened to love, you on the other hand? You’re more a Starbucks kind of girl.
Sometimes you can realize that nothing works out the way you thought it would, maybe the partner and the diner are what you thought you wanted—the sexy doctor. That’s why like the shirts, finding the right one takes time. You have to work through these before you can really get into the meat of the story, and of the relationship. Eventually though, you’ll find a novel idea that’s perfect, characters you love, and a setting you adore—that perfect partner you want to commit to, thus bringing us to stage three.
For Stage Three you'll just have to come back! It will be posted soon! Maybe tomorrow, if you're lucky.