I’ve started writing another novel. Along with short bouts of actual writing, I’ve been reading all kinds of stuff and peering at images and maps on my computer screen. I’ve been dumping the facts, ideas and impressions harvested from books and other sources into the brain mixer and sketching out scenes.
This time I’m paying attention to the process of novel-writing, as well as the substance. Scenes are the key elements of a novel. A novel is a series of scenes, in which characters and situations are introduced and developed, leading to a climactic scene or scenes in which the situations are resolved and the characters transformed in some way.
Writing goes best for me when I envision compelling scenes — just like a good reading experience, curiously enough. I need to see the elements of my story like a movie in my mind before I can render them into words that will invoke a movie in the minds of my readers.
That’s it! That’s all there is to it!
It sounds easy. But just try it! Especially when the scenes don’t arrive ready-made from some magical studio of the imagination.
Deliberate, sustained imagining is hard. It strains the brain. Like physical exercise, it’s too easy to quit before much progress is made. There are so many elements to be created and/or assembled — the over-arching theme of the novel, the characters with all their quirks, characteristics and emotions, their actions, their thoughts, the setting, and possibly external facts and realities that must be accurate. The writer has to juggle all this stuff in the brain, and then select words to convey it — the right words, and enough of them to do the job, but not too many.
That’s to create one scene — a few thousand words at most, possibly less. Many more scenes will be sweated out to trace the entire story arc. And all those scenes will have to be put into order and glued together with suitably sticky words to make a complete first draft.
No wonder writers procrastinate and agonize, writing blog posts and looking at free images on the internet instead of buckling down and making mind movies from fleeting ideas they got in the shower.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.