Getting Started – First Words

It’s a dreak and dreary day, as they say in Scotland.  Unfortunately, this is Boise. 

Dreak and dreary for us means a winter inversion.  It makes everybody grumpy, even this little sharp-shinned hawk that has perched on my feeder. 

For some people (and I’m one of them), I need a way to trick myself into getting those first few pages kick-started.  Especially like right now, where I’ve been making notes and doing research, but haven’t yet written a first scene for the new manuscript.  Sometimes, getting the first few words on paper are the hardest. 
Here’s a couple of tricks I use to get going. Any one of these works (for me) by itself, but on those days where things are moving slowly, these are my spark plugs:
·         I read a chapter (8-10) pages in the current book on writing that I’m (always) reading.  Right now, I’m rereading Nancy Kress’ Beginnings, Middles, & Ends.  It really helps me focus my thinking on how I want to begin my scene.  On my first manuscript, I didn’t write in sequence.  I started out writing a 9-page prologue what described the world view of the story, but in the end, I never used it.  You don’t have to start at the beginning.  Try starting at the end.  Or in the middle of an action scene.  Then write the scene that comes before it.  Or the scene that comes after it.  And then the one after that.  Before you know it, you have several scenes strung together, and you’re on your way. 
·         I have a little log that starts  out “Good Morning, Pandora. What would you like to write about today?” at the top of a blank page. Sometimes it triggers me to write about something I heard on the news or something I saw while I was walking the dogs. It doesn’t matter, it’s all good.  This week I clipped out an article from the paper about a new tax in Romania that is being levied against witches.  You’ve gotta admit, that’s something worth writing a couple of characters around. 
·         I’m an outliner. My scenes are structured around the usual questions like: What is the scene goal? What is the character goal? What is the question to be answered here? What is the stimulus & response? What is the emotion, thought, decision, and action in this scene? I find that when I start thinking about these questions and start writing the answers down, that the writing just starts
flowing faster and faster.
·         Do something out of the ordinary. When I’m trying to figure out how the character is going to get out of a particular quandary and everything I think of sounds stoopid, I do something unusual. I go to the zoo, or the farmers market or donate blood or something. I’m around people, so I CAN’T pay attention to the writing problem. Usually the light bulb goes on for me on the drive home.
Back to work!
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One Response to Getting Started – First Words

  1. Dear Pandora, Congratulations on your new blog! It looks great. And congratulations on getting back to work after the holidays. Always *such* a good feeling!

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