Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jump Start a Scene

My 94 year old mother is my first reader. As I progress through this current novel, I read each scene out loud to her over the telephone. I don’t share early drafts with anyone else, because I’m not really looking for input at this stage, but my mum and I have this thing going and we both love it. She commented the other day how each scene is building up her interest (good to hear) and she’s getting immersed in the characters (very good to hear.) But yesterday I had no scene to read to her and she was quite disappointed.  No, it wasn’t that I was too busy, I just couldn’t write the next scene. I didn’t know what to write. I was worried about what to write.  This amazed her. “You worry about your writing?” she said.  “It all sounds so effortless.”
I told her all authors worry (most, anyway.) This was a revelation to her.
I also told her that I’d have the next scene pronto. I have a strategy that works so well for me MOST OF THE TIME.  I have a card with the next four scenes listed, just one line about each. As I write the scene, it gets crossed off and I add another one to the bottom of the list. It gives me a kind of map. Four scenes only as I don’t want to get blocked into a sequence of scenes that might not work. The night before, I think about the next scene and let my mind go anywhere while I make notes. I brainstorm, speculate, visualize, ask questions, maybe write down a few scraps of dialogue but I don’t allow myself to start the scene. Even if I’m keen. It’s not allowing myself to write that seems to free up the creative side of my brain. How hard is it to make notes? Then it percolates all night (sometimes it starts writing itself in my head in the middle of the night!)
I take a walk in the morning with my dog. I let my mind rehearse the scene. When I finally pour my cup of tea and get to the computer, I’ve built up a lot of anticipation and I’m usually raring to go.  After I write, I record the scene in my journal, sometimes noting the word count. That gives me a great feeling of accomplishment.
Then I read it to my mum.
She always ends with, “What’s going to happen next?” I check my list of scenes of my card. It’s so reassuring to know.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for an amazing new year of writing!

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