How to Conquer Writer’s Block: Tip 88
HOW I WRITE A MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL:
I haven’t posted in a while and I suppose that indicates I have been writing my novel unhampered by writer’s block, which is true.
A flimsy excuse for not posting on this blog, however. I was dragged from my blog-posting lethargy by the realization that I have figured out the nuts and bolts of how I basically write my own longer stories. So I will share–with the knowledge that I’m doing so for my own records, in case I forget how to write another one again!
I am distinguishing “nuts and bolts” from the deeper concepts of idea-getting and creativity, although they are connected. I’ve written about the latter here: http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2015/01/write-middle-grade/
By “nuts and bolts” I mean what happens each day when I sit down in front of the computer to write my first draft. It used to be a MUCH messier process before my use of the computer and the handy ability to change font colors and scroll back and forth neatly between pages. So here goes:
When writing the first draft, I just plunge in (again, see the link above for something a bit more substantial than “plunging in”) writing a bit each day, and obsessively reading over what I’ve written on other days. Eventually I learn what I really want to say, what is important as to the flow of the story, and what needs to be changed as my characters grow. I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen and writing nothing.
Often what I do write are notes to myself about what will need to be changed or excluded or added to–and (IMPORTANT) these notes are written on a “Notes Page” which is the first page of the manuscript. Sometimes these notes are also written in RED beside the stuff needing changes. The notes are a jumble with no necessary order, although they look neat because they are typed and not scribbled, as they used to be a long time ago.
And here is the IMPORTANT part of what I’m saying: I rarely go back and revise at this point. I may reverse some sections and do some minor deleting, but not a whole bunch. I just plow ahead during this first rough draft, mildly confident that my Notes Page is keeping track of what I will need to do in the next draft. By the very end of this first draft I know what I’m doing, and it’s time to go back to the beginning and write the book again, using a tidied-up, organized Notes Page, and those pretty red comments, as my guide.
I can’t do a major revision during the first draft because I have to write the whole thing in order to sense what the emotional direction, emphasis, feel of each scene has to be,– when compared to the “whole”. When I finally get to the point when I can write a second draft, sometimes I print a hard copy and actually shuffle around scenes and chapters to get the emotional emphasis just right.
Hopefully, this makes sense to someone other than me. I’d love to hear your thoughts and about your own methods, simply because I find the writing process so fascinating. Please email me, or comment on Facebook. If you leave a comment on this blog, you will join all the many readers from faraway countries who are trying to sell me their Ray Ban sunglasses, purses, shoes and other stuff I don’t need and whom I ignore because I haven’t figured out how to block them.
And happy, messy, first drafts to all of you!
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