less of a clue where this is going

Pretty normal day yesterday. Went to work, watched some TV, played a video game. Added 1000 words to the novel. That’s about half the average I want to be doing, so I’m making progress. I want to build up to 2000 words a day by the end of the week, and then start the short story challenge at full steam.

I’m too lazy right now to peek, but I think “The Ghost, the Vampire, and the Jock” is sitting around 7,000 words total. Well past short story length, but still no clue how long the book will be at this point. It didn’t feel like a short story from the opening pages. I’m not going to constrain it to some imaginary page count. It will be whatever the heck it wants to be.

I started this book with an idea for a scene, and with any luck that scene will actually make it into the story. Again, I won’t force it. I make up stories as I write them. No outlines or character sketches or any crap like that. I have way more fun winging it every time, no chance I could produce a novel out of a preconceived outline. I’ve never successfully done that.

Not to say it isn’t scary when I have no clue where a story is going. And with this book, I have less than a clue. Seriously, the opening chapters have taken some odd directions and I have no idea how all of this comes together.

When John D. MacDonald said you have a million words of crap before you know what you’re doing, this is part of what he meant. In my earlier days of writing, I was intimidated by the prospect of creating a story out of nothing but determination and stubbornness. Now, yes it’s scary, but fun and satisfying to discover where this thing will lead.

The key is to trust everything I’ve practiced and studied–sensory depth, voice, character tags, point of view, pacing, etc. I’ve gathered enough tools to be able to write a book from nothing more than a bare idea for a scene. I’ve started stories with much less, like a title or a character name.

This is what beginning writers don’t know that they don’t know.

Well, that and it takes years of practice to reach this point, but I won’t be pointing that out to them.

By David Anthony Brown

Indie writer and publisher. Among other jack-of-all-trade skills...

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