When I write, I’m in the room my characters are in, listening very hard to both their words and the silence. I look around and see what they’re doing, or not doing, and begin to see the items and environment around them. It comes in layers, similar to an oil painting being painted. Patiently you wait for each layer to dry (your rewriting and edits) and details, smells and sounds begin to come to you. You can hear the rain pattering against the windows, you can hear the quick breathing of your character. The wooden stairs creak, you feel the dusty carpet beneath your feet. Your character speaks and you write it down. It’s like being a witness to something that’s already happening; you just need to have the presence of mind to write it down and respect the story. That is, write the story down truthfully and freely.
Once this happens, you’ve made it back to Oz–the individual world of your story, I mean. You can write. You need to simply listen to what’s already going on around you. If you stumble, the story stops, your characters freeze, and you realize you listened wrong. It’s alright: this is normal. Go back. Once you’re on the right track, your characters will come alive again and won’t miss a beat in their actions.
I hit just over the 2,000 word marker today with my next novel, GOTD. It’s a small milestone but a big one for me since I was stuck for awhile. My characters were like the Tinman before he got all of his oil: clangy, loud and mostly immobile. I rewrote until I found my way back and the story came to life.
How’s your next novel coming along? Leave some words in the comments below and we can encourage each other on. Kia kaha!
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Happy writing. Ker-kaw! 🦉