Thursday, May 2, 2013

The First Thousand Words

I don't know about other authors, but for me, the first thousand words of a new book are by far the hardest. Hard enough that I sometimes find myself procrastinating, avoiding the unpleasant effort of starting my next tale - even when I have a deadline.

It's not just the problem of figuring out a good "hook" line, to pull readers in right away. That's tough, I agree, but sometimes I already have a first line and yet I still dither and dally, looking for excuses or other tasks so I can put off the moment when I open that blank document and begin to type.

Very occasionally, I'll be hit with sudden inspiration and be able to sit down to capture it before it evaporates. More normally, my ideas come when I'm committed to other, non-writing activities. I've learned to jot down the basics in my notebook (or they'll be gone forever) but it might be days or even weeks before I have the opportunity to write that first sentence.

So I'm patting myself on the back, because I just wrote the initial two thousand words of a brand new paranormal novella, entitled Rough Weather.  I've been planning to write this book for more than six months. Somehow there was always something more urgent. Well, last weekend that story finally made it to the top of my to-do list. I had to force myself to start the book, even though I really haven't worked out all the details of the plot. I have my characters and the main conflict - it's time to let it rip!

Now I have to keep up the momentum. I find that relatively easy, once I can open a manuscript and see that I actually have something there!

If you're reading this, and you're an author yourself, I'd love to know whether your experience jibes with mine. I know some authors who dive in, but get hung up in the middle of a tale. Other people have trouble with endings. What about you?


Tabitha Rayne said...

Thank you for this post Lisabet! I am just awful for finding things to put off my writing... (like sorting out nails and screws in the garage - or sewing a patch in a coat I haven't worn for 15 years) though, it's not the first thousand that gets me - I have lots of beginnings ready - it's the tenth thousand. My goals change with every K I write.
I say to myself, now, just get to the tenth thousand and you'll have really started... then it's the twentieth... then, well, you get me.
I love hearing about how writers go about their work. Happy writing! x x

Tabitha Rayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tabitha Rayne said...

Oh dear, I've made rather a mess of this (procrastination in action!) - what I meant to say was - it takes me ages to get past the ten K mark, that's why it's become such a big deal in my head!
And Congratulations on starting your story, Lisabet! x x

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Tabitha,

Thanks for sharing your own trials and tribulations. Once I get started, things usually go more easily - though not always.

Author H K Carlton said...

Hi Lisabet:

I'm the opposite. When I first sit down to write something new (and usually inspiration hits me while I'm working on another m/s) I fly through the first few chapters, then I hit a wall and put off the ending and not because I haven't come up with the conclusion, I know how things will come out, but I still drag it out. I have several unfinished stories just waiting for completion. All pieces that I was so excited about in the beginning. Perhaps it's boredom. Luckily, I do double back and eventually finish.

All the best with Rough Weather,


Colleen C. said...

I am not a writer, but I find it very hard to express myself in words... I notice I tend to be simple in my explanations and also tend to repeat myself... I am glad there are people out there talented like yourself that create such wonderful stories with words... I may have a great imagination, but not the talent to put it on paper... instead I step into the lives of characters and their worlds to see and feel what they do... you may have your ups and downs, your starts and stops, but I know eventually something will come together for us to enjoy... congrats on begininng your novella... :)

Lisabet Sarai said...

I know other people like that. I'm not sure which syndrome is worse! One thing about me, though. I'm stubborn. In fact I often become disillusioned by a piece in the middle, but darn it, if I start something, I'm going to finish it!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks so much, Colleen.

Maybe you should collaborate with an author, to get your ideas into words. Or perhaps you might enjoy taking a creative writing course, to limber up your verbal skills.

Good ideas are actually far more rare than the ability to write competently.

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