As I near the halfway point of writing the first draft of my debut novel, I thought this might be a good time to sit back and reflect on the things I have learned about the writing process. I fully expect that whatever I have learned so far, this is only the starting point for my maturation as a writer. I have to give myself permission to stumble as I find my voice. I have to accept that my first novel (and my fiftieth, if I ever become that prolific) will be less than perfect.
These are some general notes about what I have gleamed so far from the process.
Tension–Tension is everything, really. But I struggle with it because my story is very character driven. So I keep having to remind myself that my characters don’t need to be hanging from cliffs at the end of every scene to create tension. On the other hand, I do need to always keep in mind the goals I have set for my characters (even the ones they don’t know are their goals yet!).
POV–I think I have the POV thing down okay. I try my best not to head hop and think I have so far skillfully avoided that. I;ve tried to play around with POVs with the non-main characters, not because I want the reader to be necessarily sympathetic towards them, but sometimes its useful to see the two MCs from the perspective of others, who mostly view them very different than they view themselves. ( A point that is likely true of ourselves, by the way.) When I get to the editing part, I’ll have to see whether the scenes as I wrote them work in that POV or not.
The Subconscious at Work–The more I write, the more I find that my subconscious is at work filling in details that at the time seem weird but when I write later scenes, all of a sudden I get this eureka moment where I understand why my brain did that. In a way, it comforts me knowing this process is happening silently in the background, because to me it means I am evolving as a writer. My brain is thinking as a writer.
Music as Muse–I have found more than once that music has influenced my writing of this novel. Many scenes have been imagined out while listening to music. I find I don’t even have to really think hard, the music, the emotion, the power of it all, bring images in my mind of my characters and helps me understand their emotions perfectly. It is my job, then, to transcribe these emotions as I feel them onto the written page so that you, the reader, can feel them also.
Plotting vs. Organic Writing–I have to say I have taken quite a hybrid approach towards writing. I first started writing this novel basically just writing scenes out with the characters, getting a feel for them and their mannerisms. Struggling to find my voice. After writing enough that I felt I knew where the story was kind of starting, I started planing out at a high level what I thought the story was about. I then wrote more scenes and planned out more of the novel. Now at the half way point, I have to change some key elements of the second half thanks to some surprising developments as I write. I guess this is all part of the process. I wonder how much will change when I am done my first draft and go back to edit?
Those are my thoughts for now. Happy writing.