Practice

Of course, after I went to bed last night my brain started developing this new short story. I thought for a while I was going to have to get up and write it, but no, I was able to go to sleep.

This morning, I had a coughing fit and woke up 30 minutes before my alarm (I was having weird dreams about living in a five bedroom house, with five roommates, and all of us doing laundry with our different, separate washing machines.) The story was still there, slightly faded but still alive.

I spent the next 1 1/2 hours working on it, from about 6:30 to 8. It was hard to get into writing mode. I’ve been in editing mode for so long. I’m so used to puzzling over every word. It was difficult to let go, to have a flow. I spent a little time tinkering with the first paragraph, getting the voice right, but eventually I was able to go and just write. I finished the first scene, I know the second scene, and I’m uncertain about the third scene. I don’t think it’s the end. I think the ending has to come at the bottom of the fourth scene. We’ll see. (And yes, I know that end, very well. Watching it last night was part of what kept me awake last night.)

Then I spent an hour working on the novel. I’m working on the second novel currently, reading each chapter out loud then incorporating those changes. I’ve gone through the first two chapters: so far, it hasn’t been too bad. This has been really just a polish.

I’ve been thinking about what it is I’m working on in these novels, prompted in part by Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post on writers don’t need to practice. I knew I was going into these novels without an existing mythology. Part of what I was practicing with this trilogy was world building, creating a people and their myths from scratch. They’re also an exercise in complexity — six kingdoms, four gods, and a cast of thousands.

I was also thinking about what I’m going to be practicing in the next novel. I’d decided that I was going to make it a page turner: for all its sleepy, slow setting, it’s going to move briskly. I’m also practicing a single POV. I’ve written 6 novels now, and all of them have multiple POVs.

Then I get to this chapter this morning. It isn’t that the first two chapters in this novel are boring. But they’re slower, that’s for certain. They’re emotionally tense (how does a boy tell his mother that he just killed the goddess she worships? As well as his cousin, who was raised as his sister?) And they convey a lot of information, catching the reader up with what happened in the first novel.

But this third chapter. Wow. It sweeps along at a breathtaking pace. Each scene trumps the previous in terms of surprise and racing along.

I didn’t know I could write like that. This is obviously one of the chapters where I had flow. Fortunately, I can see what I did, and why this chapter works. I really need to remember this chapter, and write an entire book like this.

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