After seven months of The Bear’s Wife, I have started The New Thing.
I had a lot of false starts. A lot of stories I began while I was still hip-deep in editing TBW; a lot of stories I tried to write to fit certain titles or cover art. A lot of stories that had cute beginnings but somehow, didn’t grow past that.
This one seems to have taken. It keeps sprouting fresh suckers of story for me to follow up. I can get in my daily thousand words, no problem.
Reservations? Sure, I have a few. More than a few. I had more than a few about The Bear’s Wife at the beginning, too, and it turned out splendidly in spite of them. And so, because this story is fruitful, I will push on in spite of the reservations.
A few mantras to keep me (and maybe you) keepin’ on when writing a new, unfamiliar story:
1. Assume the first quarter will be scrapped completely, and write it anyway. This stops you from killing the whole thing prematurely.
2. Assume the second quarter will be rewritten until it’s unrecognizable. Ditto.
3. You don’t need to know what will be on a page until you are writing that page. Don’t look ahead and worry. (Did I tell you I’m a pantser? If you’re a plotter, ignore this one).
4. You don’t know your characters yet. You WON’T know your characters until you have written them into and out of several unpleasant situations. Do not give up just because you don’t know the characters yet!
5. Do indulge in re-reading and mild line edits. This gives you a view of where the story might be going, puts you back in the mood of it, and every line edit you make now is a line edit you don’t need to make later. Just do it quickly and lovingly, as an exercise to get you ready to write more.
6. The opening you write now will not be the final opening of the book. Don’t sweat it yet.