Writing the first draft for a novel is hard.
Writing the second draft is harder.
As a notorious quitter with a graveyard of W.I.P.s on her laptop, I was surprised when I actually wound up completing the first draft of my passion project. Considering how often I become overwhelmed by the prospect of cramming all my ideas into a digestible bit of copy paper, this truly was nothing short of miraculous.
Even after my abdication from the religion of Pantsing to the Church of Plotting, it took months to pound out a complete draft of this Frankenstein’s Monster.
No, it was not a pretty sight. Nevertheless, it was done.
Surely, then. Completing draft #2 couldn’t be that difficult……
While it’s slowly coming into focus what direction I should take, getting to the point where I could sit down at my desk and type took ages.
I was proud of what I had accomplished so far, but the weight of knowing just how much I would have to mend and cut out so this story would make any sense was so daunting I didn’t even know where to start.
The ever-present inner critic refused to shut up even after I tried drowning them in wine.
This has been done before. That’s boring. Nobody will read this anyway so might as well throw your laptop into a river and allow the nothingness to consume you.
Then…there is that line.
The line of the book that is the difference between being shelved and being devoured: The first sentence.
The first sentence may seem like a superfluous fixation, but I have shelved many a book because I didn’t like the first sentence. Sometimes I am a generous patron and wait to discount it until after I’ve read the first page. But if it doesn’t hook me by then, I’m gone.
How the hell do you even start a book?
At the beginning, says the ignoramus.
But no. Most professionals would discourage you from starting “at the beginning.” They say you should start in the middle of the action.
The middle of what actions? you ask.
It’s a delicate tight-rope walk, starting a novel. You want to hook the reader by starting in the middle of the action, but you don’t want to overdo it. The reader still doesn’t know these people and, therefore, probably isn’t that invested in what happens to them.
Nobody is going to care if Karen dumps Chad because nobody knows who the hell Chad is or why he is significant.
It becomes a great deal more difficult when you write a hard fantasy book where the hierarchy has to be explained or no one will understand what’s happening.
The Valdimores defeated the evil Morvexes in the conquest of Tyrelia by equalizing the Porgantorians.
Nevertheless, I (and you if you are in the same boat as me) will get through this. It’s all part of the painful, blood-letting process.
You can’t make a diamond without squeezing a rock. Real hard. With your bare hands.