Banishing the critic.
Today we’re talking about banishing the critic. I imagine mine in a trench coat with a cigar, dribbling ashes all over my pages. Yours might be even scarier.
But let’s face it: Nobody can beat you up as thoroughly and eloquently as you can yourself.
So what’s a writer to do ?
Let’s start with what not to do.
Don’t medicate yourself…it might take away the edge, but you know what? It will also take away…the edge… that special thing that makes your work sing.
No drugs, no alcohol. I know I sound like somebody’s mother, and oh, yeah, I am! You have to tolerate the anxiety of the blank page.
But how? You’ll come up with your own techniques through time, but here are some that have worked for me:
- Music. Songs. Played low through a set of headphones. Other people’s words seem to divert my critic enough so that I can get my words on the page.
- Give yourself permission to write that truly spectacular bad draft.
- Set a timer for fifteen minutes. And only write for fifteen. And then stop. Mid-sentence, mid-word, even mid-thought.
- Remind yourself of what Samuel Beckett said: Fail. Fail again. Fail better!
- Allow yourself to go down paths. Celebrate the ones that go nowhere, or go places you never intended. Allow yourself to fail, fail again, and fail better.
Here’s to a great week of exploration!
Another opening, another show: writing scene one.
Today we’re going to talk about crafting that all important first scene.
If you’ve been doing the assignments in these blogs, you’ve written out a draft of one of your must-have scenes.
That’s for practice.
And now today’s the day we’re going to figure out how your novel starts.
- First—and this is without actually writing the scene yet—jot down a few notes about what has to happen in that scene.
- Who is in the scene?
- Where is the scene?
- What do you want the reader to be worried about at the end of it?
This is important. They’ve cracked open the book…they’ve stepped into this world you’ve created. Who’s there? And why? This is their introduction to who and what they’re going to worry about. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Start the scene as late in the story as possible.
For example, we don’t need to see the scene in which your main character is born…unless that’s important in some way to what you want the reader to worry about.
- Start your first scene mid-scene, whenever possible. Plunk us down in the middle of it.
- Start it with action. Have us get to know your main character as your character’s doing something.
- Set the hook with the very first sentence.
Have fun. See you next week!
Rip that book apart. No not yours, that really good published one.
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Falling in love with Love. Or Sci-fi. Or Thrillers. Or Pulp Fiction.
Your year to start a novel? Busy talking yourself out of it?
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