Starting is the Hardest Part

I’ve been working on a new project. And I’m having to remind myself that it’s okay not to write it right the first time. Sometimes you have to write a project wrong to discover how to write it right. And sometimes ideas don’t come in a flash of inspiration. Sometimes they emerge slowly from a long fermentation process, bubble and burst.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve been working on as I shape my ideas and write my fledgling draft:

1) Characters need motivations. What is driving them throughout the story? What drives them through each scene? What do they want?

This applies to the main character most clearly, however minor characters also need motivations. They aren’t just a sounding board for the main character to talk to, or a nice object that takes up space in a scene. All characters need purpose.

2) Setting is basically a character too. It has personality. It contributes to the mood and atmosphere of each scene. It interacts with the characters and shapes the plot as well. If you can’t place where your characters are, you can’t place the story, and you have a bunch of characters wandering aimlessly in blank space.

Sometimes when you write a draft, you can’t fully know your characters and setting right away. Sometimes you learn about them through writing and through blocks and failures. Planning and writing a first draft requires some sort of balance between thinking hard about the players and plotting everything out, as well as giving a trial run and seeing where the writing takes you.

 

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