Dirty drafting probably made it all sound easy. That is not my intention. Every time I sit down to write I am seized with the fear that I have “lost it”. I’m good at dialogue and that’s about it. I gaze into space, go for little walks, tidy kitchen drawers – anything some days rather than write! This said, I do have a few things that have helped in the last two years of serious writing. I’ve mentioned most of these in previous blogs; these are my current stand-bys.
Have a plan. Not Draft Zero – something much more prosaic for that particular chapter. In the notes panel on Ulysses I jot down answers to these questions:
- What are my objectives for this chapter? For example: show time passing, move
hero from A to B, introduce X.
- What is the mood? Three words to describe how I want the reader to feel reading this chapter. Claustrophobic, dreary, trapped, maybe. (Sorry, but I’ve got to that stage in the story 😉
- What’s happening? National events – because even though I may not actually mention them they will affect my characters, directly or indirectly. Local events like time of the year, day of the week, market days, church services, farming activities, sunrise and sunset – and weather. We’re so lucky to have weather! I use the London Weather Channel to check the weather on, say, November 11 1918.
Have a target. The old chestnut – but a good one. Ulysses (no, I’m not being paid; I’m just in love) has a word counter that says encouraging things (“already xx words!”) and turns green when you reach your target. I set it for 500. Five hundred is easy; I’ve already written 271 in this blog post. A bit more waffle and I’m there – and the jinx is broken (even if I subsequently delete 450).