Since I finished writing an embarrasing manuscript almost four years ago, I’ve been trying to kick start writing another work of fiction. I have numerous attempts and failures at starting a new narrative, but in the last month, I’m happy to report that I have sustained a fiction story for 25,000 words now (38 single spaced word document pages). I learned a lot from that first failed attempt of a novel.
First of all, I know better than to put things into it that I won’t be too proud to show others later. Second, I have taken to write what I know well: Huskers and college football, travel, and a case of boy meets girl. Early in the process, I did feel that what I was doing than stuff I’ve read, so I’m happy on that front. I also have a defined structure that my narrative will take place in, so that keeps me on track.
Writing turns me into a miserable person. I don’t want to go out or talk to anyone else when I write. I take a schneid attitude toward my work. I can’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything until I’ve written. I download lots of music I’ll eventually hate. I’m this close to discontinuing showering, and if I had a girlfriend right now, I’m pretty sure she’d dump me.
But I’m happy doing this. I’m happy to be back to pursuing my long-term goal of being a novelist. I’m doing this to silence my own self-doubt. The manuscript I wrote four years ago, while good, was ultimately a work I wasn’t proud of and had to put in a drawer. This time around, I’ve told myself not to invest the time in writing it unless I’ve got a plan for releasing it. I’ll submit it to agents, but if no publisher takes it, I’ll self-publish it to e-books, perhaps with a few hard copies as well
I have two go-to staples in this project: I know I’m good at writing dialogue, so when all else fails, I turn to two characters speaking to each other. Like a lot of guys, whenever I get into trouble and don’t know what to write, I just write dialogue. While I haven’t plotted everything out, I do write guidelines before I jump into write scenes. I have arcs that I want my characters to go on. In my concordance, I have written down what each character’s relationship is to the other characters in the work. From watching a lot of spy shows, I’ve devised a principal: good conflict is created when Character A has loyalty split between Character B and Character C (or Characters D and E, if you’re really ambitious). I also keep in my mind that Character A not only process his/her relationship with Character B, but when Character C enters, Characters A must simultaneously process his relationships with both Characters B and C, but also the relationship between Characters B and C. (Got that insight in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.)
As far as the plot of this novel, it is set around a Nebraska football game in recent memory. That’s all I’m saying for now.
But as of right now, my goal is to have a full draft done by February 28. I am selling out to this, and I will be proud to make it my future, thanks be to God.