I’ve started many novels and haven’t gotten past the first 25 or so pages. Then, every once in a while, I feel that spark. That zinging in my gut that says “this one will be different.” Sometimes it fades out, and I file those ideas away for another time, perhaps. Other times, it HAS to happen.
I think I’ve figured out why.
I have to fall in love with the characters. I know I can write well on the fly, but if I don’t care about the characters I am writing about, the story is going to die. If I don’t have a small idea of what to do with those characters, the story will die. Even if I DO know exactly what I want to do, the story won’t happen unless I fall for my characters. Unless they are keeping me awake at night. Unless I can’t stop thinking about them. Unless every fibre of my being wants to stop whatever I’m doing and immerse myself back in their stories.
I can’t tell anyone what I’m writing about. I can tell people I’m writing. I can tell them I’m planning. But the second I give out details, the story fizzles out. There have been some exceptions, but for me, this is the rule more often than not.
I have to have SOME idea of what to do with these characters I’m so endeared to. If I love them enough, I will find ways to fit them in. If they love me enough, their needs, wants and wishes will come out as I’m writing, dreaming, creating. But forcing them, or trying to make a plot happen does not work. It’s painful and I don’t think the quality of my writing is as good as it could be.
I have to ACCEPT that there are many ways to put together a novel. No more thinking the first drafts must be 1) perfect 2) written in chronological order 3) what I absolutely MUST keep in the end.
I am the one in CONTROL. I can write what I want, how I want it, and I can always change it later.