Writing a novel is very different from writing a play. The story telling is the same, but the mechanics of it are different as I am finding out.
I know the play writing process. I know it’s different for each story, but I have a good idea what I need to do to get to my pay-off. Once I get the characters working, I almost don’t need to think about the writing until the final tweaks. It becomes a matter of getting the characters to do the things required to tell the story.
In writing a novel, I feel certain that there will come a point where my characters take over, but it takes so much longer to get there. I need to build the sets and do the lighting using my words. It is hard work. And often boring work.
Add to that this story is in the Fantasy genre which means I must create the world. It is a lot more work than I first thought.
I stopped working on Dirt for several months because the main character felt tiresome and unlikable. I didn’t like her. I also questioned my ability to write Fantasy.
I learned three things from working Dirt:
- Keeping a novel journal is an invaluable tool. I write down ideas and thoughts and ask myself great questions in it.
- The app Scapple is a powerful brainstorming and world creation tool. Scapple allows me to use the visual parts of my brain in planning how the story unfolds and creating the world around it. It bridges the gap between the words and visual parts of my creativity.
- It’s important to use a novel structuring plan that I understand like Super Structure by James Scott Bell. There are a million structuring systems out there, pick one that makes sense to you.
I own these tools thanks to Dirt. That may have been the end of it if not for a shooting star.
There are many reasons to go back to abandoned projects and I’m sure I’m not alone on this. Most often it is because something happens in life that brings the project boldly into your face and it can not be ignored.
This event happened a couple weeks ago near my hometown in Michigan.
Rare Shooting Star Lights-up Michigan Skies.
This may seem unrelated other than it happened near me. But, the inciting incident for Dirt is a meteorite landing in Michigan.
I still can’t wrap my brain around it. I had to go back and read my material.
My main character is not tiresome. She is exactly what I wanted her to be. She is interesting, different from the usual lead character and very likable. It would have been a mistake to make some of the changes I had planned six months ago.
I am very glad I had the wisdom to step away from it. Knowing how the story doesn’t go is as important as knowing how the story does go. I see it more clearly now. This tells me I can trust my instincts on this story even if I don’t understand them.
When I read this pile of words titled Dirt after NANO, I felt I had something worth pursuing. I feel that again. Literally, thank the heavens.
I wish I had written it with some kind of plan and not willy-nilly as I did. It is the last time I do NANO without an outline.
I am back to working on it at least 3 days a week. The world of Dirt is interesting, but complicated. I am working toward simplifying it or at least not including each little detail. Just enough detail. Really, if this were easy everyone would be doing it.
When I get to feeling I can’t do it or it’s terrible or I hate my main character, I have the shooting star to remember. Anything is possible.
What makes you re-start a project?