Today’s posting is about writing. If you are more interested in Mr. Rogers, I suggest you read Ron’s Omnibus. There’s a good piece there about the new Mr. Rogers documentary. Just look for the Ron’s Omnibus ad in the right-hand column and click on it.
Okay, back to the topic of writing for those who may play around with words as I do in hopes of arranging them in such a way that they actually tell a story that makes sense when you read it.
Last April I posted a story here on my blog explaining how I was brain dead on getting started on a new novel. The catalyst that motivated me to take on one more book was a picture I came across of a distant relative who appears close enough to be my twin if you compare pictures of us taken at about the same age. That’s Isaac on the left and me on the right. He died in 1955 when I was ten and he lived his entire life in Australia. The idea of running across a distant relative who is almost identical to you, I thought would make a great premise for a story. There was just one thing missing—the story! I just hadn’t come up with any details.
A year later I still hadn’t come up with the details. That’s when I posted my piece about “Just Do It” in which I explained I was going to sit down and stare at a blank page and begin writing whatever came to mind about the two pictures. It was going to be a pure wing-it novel with no preplanning, no outline, no nut’n. Then I was foolish enough to tell you I’d give you an update every now and then to let you know how it was going. I agree, I never thought I’d really have an update because I figured I’d still be staring at a blank piece of paper. But, hah! I do….so, here’s the update…
I have pounded out 13 chapters, a little under the half-way point. How do I know this? Well I decided to write about the older guy first—this turns out to be “Book I”…and the younger guy’s story will take up Book II. The concept has evolved that the two parts kind of mirror each other…like the photographs. The man in Book I dreams of things the man in Book II does and vice-versa. I don’t want to disclose any more at this point other than to note each has a love interest and each is very much his own being…or is one of them actually the other and the other, the other? Yeah, you gotta think about that for a moment.
It has turned out to be an interesting writing exercise that is totally alien to me. I just start a chapter where the last one left off and adlib the entire way through it, developing the story line as I go. Only now, after 13 chapters am I beginning to fold back into my normal writing pattern whereby I start each chapter with a list of items I need to cover, although the pathway remains obscure.
What has happened is surprising. Despite being so difficult to come up with a compelling concept for over a year, one actually pooped itself out right there in front of me once I got started. I now know where I am headed, I have the all pieces reasonably laid out on paper with a timeline and an actual ending? Uh-Uh…I never talk about the ending until you get there. I do have one in mind and I think it will result in an explosive “WOW!” on the part of the reader.
So the moral here is, if you are so hung up and you got nothin’ except a vague idea for a book, but you know you want to write it, then: JUST DO IT! Go sit down and simply start pounding out a few things about the main character or the setting where the story takes place. Then, BANG! Before you know it, you have a bunch of chapters that make sense and may be more robust than if you had planned them out in advance. Want a sample? Here goes…
“The kitchen was cramped with just barely enough room for a table and four chairs. Everything was strategically placed and functional to whatever role it played in the cooking and eating process. Cleanliness was not an issue. The old warped oak-slab floor gleamed with fresh varnish and every crevice in the room was dust-free, every surface scrubbed and shiny. But as impressive as the kitchen was, make no mistake about it, the most imposing item in the room at all times was Mrs. Richter. She stood several inches taller than Isaac, and wider too. She reminded him of the women working the beer halls back home, the ones who could sling four or more tankards of ale on each arm while they flexed their hips to collect tips in their apron pockets. Her tightly braided hair was coiled and neatly stacked atop her head, defying gravity as she moved swiftly about the kitchen. A juggernaut of a women, thought Isaac.”
So stay tuned to this channel for another update when I get to Book II. Unlike the feeling I had back in April, now I am confident I have plenty more to write about. Don’t you just love it when a non-plan comes together!