I’ve been making up stories since I could line up two thoughts in my head and keep them their.
It began with dolls, moved to cut cut out pictures, then cut out pictures with captions, then stories about cats and fairies and people living on the moon on the family PC, then my very first handwritten manuscript, then that manuscript being edited on the computer, then my very first Short Story, and then now – my very first novel (WIP), Dragon’s Tooth.
Dragon’s Tooth began in September, 2010 (the 12th), whilst doing some chores. I just wrote the introduction scene out in my head, then once I got inside, I jotted it down in my writing notebook (for that reason I remember it was a Sunday, otherwise I would’ve jotted it down on the PC).
It was originally called “Miranda”. And, like all my other previous stories, revolved around a larger than life girl, who was helplessly in love, and could defeat anything.
It seemed pretty cool to me at first, it was a fantasy about Dragons, and I had a vague (yet clearer than usual) idea about what I wanted it to do. I chugged along for 5 months or so (till sometime in December 2010), writing 5 chapters, then promptly stopped.
To give you an idea how bad what I am about to describe to you was, I didn’t start writing again till 16 February 2011 (a Wednesday, says the book).
I was stuck. How two damned love birds Miranda and Lucas had just escaped the kitchen. Lucas, who had just survived his village burning down in dragon fire and watching his parents die and then walked all night to the nearest village, was just being hit by what had happened. Miranda was being her concerned self, and we had the perfect entry for a tender moment. Except it wasn’t perfect, because the entire book was flawed.
I. Could. Not. Continue.
Not “I want to, but can’t because-[enter silly excuse here]”, or not “My parents said I’ve been writing way too much lately and they want me to take up a different hobby now”; very simply and plainly COULD NOT.
If I had known what I was doing wrong, that “can’t” almost certainly would’ve become a “can”. Sadly for me it took two months of musings and research to figure out what I was doing wrong.
There really is no nutshell-ian way of putting what I was doing wrong. Maybe even “wrong” is the _incorrect_ word. All I know is that what I was doing, was a one way ticket to never writing anything that anyone but my parents and a few kind friends were going to read. and live through.
Here is a list of mistakes that I have identified and am now dutifiully dodging in my re-write:
NO IDEA WHERE THE HECK THIS THING IS GONNA GO! Not really official, I admit. But hey, it works. And is pretty much self explanatory.
Yeah, I had a vague idea of what I wanted. Well, at least, for the next paragraph.
My writing “style” was always a make-it-up-as-you-go-along sorta thing. And while, a lot of writing IS spur of the moment ideas, those ideas were used because they fitted in with the bigger picture.
Spur of the moment ideas can’t be fitted in if you don’t even HAVE a bigger picture.
LARGER THAN LIFE CHARACTERS. Maybe that’s the wrong terminology, maybe there is no such thing, maybe Godzilla exists. Whichever you choose, my characters were defiantly NOT someone you were going to be able to relate to. I mean seriously, who, after finding some strange guy in their room (especially if the “who” in this sentence is a girl), is going to interragte him, then open up to him completely because he’s supposedly related to someone you know?
Why am I concerned by the lack of hands showing…
That though, (and unfortunately) is just one of many examples of what my characters were like, 24/7.
ON THE SUBJECT OF CHARACTERS, I IGNORED MINE. Listening to characters… you tell someone that’s not an author that you listen to the words on your page, and 9 times out 8.5 they’re gonna think you’re mad. But hey, they don’t think that when they read some of the awesome works out there, now, do they?
Listening to characters is one of (IMO) the most important parts of writing. Your characters a PEOPLE. Yeah ok, so they’re personalities in your head now translated into words, but they’re still PEOPLE. They still have wants, dreams, hopes, fears, hungers, thirsts, weaknesses, emotions, abilities, things to conquer – the list goes on and on.
There are times when you have to make your characters suffer, but you were able to make them suffer because you listened to what they told you would NOT make them suffer first.
If I was making mine suffer, it wasn’t intentional. Mainly because I didn’t know they existed. My characters, were words. Just, words. A tool to give my story a little life.
And man did that ever backfire.
Take a tip: Listen to your characters. You don’t have to take their advice, but just listen to them, for goodness sake.
UNNATURAL DIALOGUE. Yup, the one I pick on the most, and I did (hopefully, past tense) it myself. I don’t think I need to go into detail here, it was just that – unnatural. Like getting one of those serious people in the movies to laugh at your witty joke.
I AM AUTHOR, THEREFORE I TELL. Brrrt, wrong. Therefore you lovingly and painstakingly craft your words into mouth watering delicacies that leave the reader desperate for more.
Sure, I had some scenes that COULD’VE been descriptive… but thankfully my dad told me that they were too flat. And that’s pretty much were my description went up hill.
THE INABILITY TO THINK TWICE, REMOVE, ADD, REPEAT. I had an unhealthy hoarding over my words. It felt like I was killing my own child every time I hit backspace. Obviously, that is what writing is all about. But oh no, not me.
I am in debt to K. M Weiland to pulling me out of that hole… after a reading a post where she mentioned how she kept old ideas/scenes in separate word documents and had found them useful during editing, I suddenly realized I COULD keep those precious “children”, whilst trying out new ideas.
And yes, I have gone back and found those old ideas useful, just in case you were wondering.
That last one was one of my major problems, and it probably was the root of all others.
I am pleased to announce though, that I am improving.
After two months on non-writing, I had had a lot of time for musing, and a little research too.
Enter the re-write – Dragon’s Tooth.
Begun, like I said, in February, it has been through more re-writes than I can count. I do not know how many times I’ve announced ‘I finished chapter one 1!” only to announce 4 weeks later “I finished chapter 1!! oh right… again…”
It really has only started to pic up and shape out during these past 3 or so (maybe more/maybe less) months. During the first 3 months of the re-write, I was still heavily attached to Miranda.
I don’t know how it happened, but some time about 3 months ago, (around June), I finally realized I had to LET GO. If I wanted to reach this goal, I had to turn characters I had been wanting to be good guys into bad guys, I had to regroup people, I had to write with a PURPOSE.
I am now half way through chapter two of Dragon’s Tooth. After spending six months writing 3 chapters only to find them full of holes, as well as testing out several ideas, I am extremely happy with what I am writing.
So far, I can see no plot holes in what I have written. Everything is lining up. I know what I want in the long run. I know WHY that Dragon had a collar. I know WHY I killed that baby. I know WHY Zach and Miranda were partnered, and why they are at the inn. I know WHY they are special, and WHY their eyes are not the colour of moonlight. I KNOW WHY.
It’s an exhilarating feeling. And I’m excited to be chugging along at roughly 3000 to 5000 words a week, and heading somewhere.