There’s something about the first 10,000 words of a novel. I like them because (usually), nothing has gone wrong …
It’s after that the problems begin. And I’ve noticed that they’re the same problems in every book I write, so here they are:
- I’ve begun the book in the wrong place. I get a MUCH better idea for Chapter 1. And probably Chapters 2-4, also. There’s no point carrying on with the angle I’d first thought of so I rewrite what I’d written from the new angle. Much better.
- I haven’t been assiduous in keeping a cast list and I’m beginning to forget the names of minor characters. I update my cast list and find I have four characters whose names begin with J or two characters called Peter. I make the necessary adjustments to my castlist and to my manuscript.
- While I’m at it, I update my timeline (a long strip of paper created by stapling together A4 sheets from my scrap paper drawer). I find I’ve messed up my timeline and have to go back and sort it out. I make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
- I get involved with promo for the last book and return to my WIP in short bursts. I lose continuity and realise I have far too many ideas for one book. It will end up about 300,000 words long.
- I feel like one of those people who keep fifty plates spinning on thin sticks. I’m worried I’m not keeping them all going and I go back and read and edit what I have so far.
I go away to teach or attend a convention and swear to work every day on my book so I don’t lose momentum. I work on it on the plane there. On the plane back I stare at it and wonder whether this is actually my book at all. Once home, I go back and read and edit what I have so far. (If I’m really organised, I manage to make 5 and 6 one step, which saves a lot of time.)
- I realise that the dynamics between certain characters are not coming out as I thought they were. I make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
I realise that I do NOT have too many ideas for one book. I have too few. I panic and feel sick and begin scribbling new plot ideas on post-its. I may turn to drink.
- I find a hole in my plot. For some reason, the knowledge comes to me when I’m either on a train or in the shower. I worry a lot. Sigh. Scribble on post-its. Make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
- I stare at the 63,449 words of my manuscript and know that I’m going to sweat over unknotting my plot lines and bringing the book to a satisfying ending … so I write a blog entitled Familiar Blunders When Writing a Novel.