Monday, July 22, 2013

How A Few Tricks Can Keep the Momentum Going on That New WIP

Strategy Part II: Continuing from PART I


When I'm trying to get started and I'm a little scared that I might not be able to keep the momentum going I resort to a few tricks.

Sometimes I write against my usual habits. So, for me, that would be to do absolutely NO description. I try to put everything into dialog or action.  Or I work at nailing the emotional moment with internal thought or an expressed desire. Sometimes this strategy stretches my brain out and makes me see possibilities I hadn't before.



In Sliding on the Edge I'd written all kinds notes about my MC's lifestyle: her crummy apartment, the seedy part of town she lived in--tons of description. I loved it all, but I couldn't think of starting my book with any of it. 

Then I wrote two words. They expressed her internal fear. Not one bit of description. Amazingly enough this is how the book began. Something's wrong. 





Another little trick I play on myself is to write what the character wants more than anything else. 

Here's a start to one of my young adult WIP's. I'm still fiddling with this, but I'm getting closer to where I think this book should start.


After the hanging, Catherine made one vow. She’d clear Pa’s name. She’d have him buried in sanctified ground. Until she’d done both of those things, she’d not rest. And she didn’t. Then Jonah arrived, but over a hundred years too late.


Action, especially if I can combine character, helps me with my starting point, too. Here's how I've decided to begin the sequel to Alligators Overhead, my first middle grade novel.


Pete rolled his bike across the porch and down the ramp, slow and quiet. Once he got to the sidewalk, he straddled the seat and shot off to Weasel’s. After being grounded for almost a week Pete needed a Weasel fix. Mostly he needed to tell him about the mess he was in and get him to figure out how to read the mysterious note. That note might be exactly what he needed to get out of trouble.

Any tricks up your writerly sleeves? I'm always looking for more ideas. Actually, I need all the help I can get. :-)



36 comments:

  1. I don't do a lot of description anyway. I always have to add it later.
    Make the first line snarky. That worked well for my second book.

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  2. Everyone says not to edit as you go, but I'll go back ten pages and read up until the point I stopped, and that plunges me back into the story and my momentum.

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    1. I'm with you on your system. I can't just go ahead if what I did the day before isn't right.

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  3. This is great. Writing dialog and action only is awesome and I do it regularly to get started.

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    1. It's a great way to get the immediacy of the story and the characters.

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  4. I don't know if I'd call it a 'trick', but something I like to do is picture different scenes in movie form. What they might look like on the screen.

    A lot of times, those scenes blossom and I get even more ideas from them :)

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    1. I like to close my eyes and type what I see in my head. Do you ever do that?

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  5. These are excellent ideas for how to get going. You're going to write a sequel to Alligators Overhead? I can't wait! Well, yes I can but I don't want to.

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    1. I think I should have my head thoroughly examined. I wasn't going to write another book.

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  6. Sliding on the Edge was a good read, so evidently your tricks work!

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. I'm hoping that book has legs. :-)

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  7. I have not tricks up my sleeve but I loved hearing yours. I'll give them a try!

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    1. Good luck. Let us know if anything helps.

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  8. I tend to let myself work on a shiny new idea for a bit if I'm feeling out of sorts with my regular story - that usually works! :)

    Love the beginning of Catherine's story!!

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  9. Hmm, I need to shiny up my finale. I'm quite frustrated with my ms today... but only the new stuff. I was happy with it until today.

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  10. I love all of these tips! Also- it was great to read all the different beginnings- and think they each make a great beginning. :) Each one pulls me right in and makes me curious!

    Drawing helps me (as I mentioned) and so does talking about the story to someone. Of course, sitting down and typing anything often gets the ball rolling (but not always). :)

    ~Jess

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    1. I love that you draw. That's such a great way to "see" things.

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  11. I needed to read these tips as I'm not getting anywhere with my WIP. I will definitely try some of these out. :)

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  12. Hey Lee,

    Yep, your lil' ol' wait is finally over. I have arrived to leave you with yet another one of my much anticipated comments.

    Always a good strategy to have part two follow part one. Excellent. Do you know what my strategy is? Do I even have a strategy? You may well ask. Whenever I write, I become whatever I'm writing about. Which means, if I'm writing about a used toilet brush, I become a used toilet brush. Neat, eh! I refer to my strategy as "method writing". I also like to write in a wide variety of genres. Keeps my last two brain cells active.

    Reading your informative posting, Lee, you certainly don't need any hints from me, yes me, shy and humble me.

    Your starstruckest fan,

    Gary

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  13. These are shining examples of beginnings that really draw you in! Thanks for the tips Lee!

    Julie

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  14. I struggled with the same.problem,.then.wrote an amazing Prologue and stuck.it at the beginning. This was tbe best thing I could do. It really adds a big punch to kick off Escalation.

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    1. I like prologues. They do a great job of setting up a story fast.

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  15. I love starting with the "What I want/need more than anything" because it sets the stage for the struggles coming up. Loved these tips! Thanks

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  16. you're full of tricks, missy :)

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  17. I love these tips. I need to file this somewhere.

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  18. When I'm starting a story, it's usually right after I've had a dream about it. I go with whatever emotion is at the core and pour everything into that single concept. For me, it's all about the emotion.

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  19. Getting started on a project is always difficult for me. I like all these tips, and I'm bookmarking this post so I have it handy.

    Only once have I known the first line before I started writing. I'm pretty sure the protagonist of that short story woke me up to tell me because she stood over me tapping her foot until I finished the story a few hours later. The story required little editing and sold to the first magazine I sent it to. Basically I just transcribed what she said. I have no idea where any of it came from. That first line was: It was Charlie Merrill's time to die.

    If all my writing was that easy the only challenge would be typing fast enough. Where's the fun in that?

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    1. That's a great first line! Aren't we lucky that our characters keep nudging us until we write their stories?

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  20. I didn't feel a limited third POV was quite clicking so I started a diary in first person for the MC. I helped me get deeper in her brain and made the limited third richer. Thanks for sharing your tricks. Yes, I will be stealing them.

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    1. I like you idea, too, Leslie. Excellent.

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  21. Fantastic tips! I always try to start off with the hook, where something goes wrong and sends the MC's world into chaos. I do like the idea of starting with a desire too.

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  22. I like some of your tips... might have to give them a go. For me, something as simple as hand writing my story helps me get past any spots I'm stuck.

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  23. Hi Lee ... something's wrong? What a great start to a book ..

    Not writing books I can just read these notes and enjoy them .. I really don't like getting in a rut when I'm writing a blog post - and need to pull myself out .. it's a struggle sometimes.

    I often write the post - and then work out the title .. the content has usually dramatically altered by the time I get to 'publish' ..

    Cheers and happy writing .. Hilary

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