Beginning is hard. I remind myself that resistance is the first stage of writing. This morning I described—in only a sentence or two or three—possible scenes in The Next Novel. I wrote these out on 3×5 index cards. I intentionally held to five scenes—five cards: a modest beginning. I want to start something I’ll keep up. If I keep to five scenes a day, every day, I’ll increase it.
This is the first stage of the “dream-storming” method described by Robert Olen Butler in Chapter 5, “The Writer Prepares,” of From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction. He cautions against writing a scene out fully, even if you can hear the voices, see it clearly. (I’m not sure I have the discipline not to write it out, especially dialogue.) He says only to give one sensual detail, one small thing to hook the scene—a smell, a sound, a feel.
I read this book over a year ago, and the procedure appealed to me. I resolved that I would try it for The Next Novel. It’s not out-lining, but it’s not just jumping in, either. It’s a fluid visualization technique that’s somewhere between the two. I’m hoping, in this way, to have a clearer idea of the novel as a whole before I begin to write it next spring. (I’m hoping not to take eight years to write The Next Novel.) Of course once I begin to write, the entire thing will change, derail, veer off in some unexpected direction. And then one goes back to the cards.
I’m a sucker for systems, anything to offer a step-ladder out of the swamp. I’ll try this; it appeals to me.
Aleph,tThis is a good reminder. Thank you. I got sidetracked into research and need to get back to dreaming.
Reading Butler’s “From Where You Dream” book got me interested in dreamstorming, and led me to your blog (along with some others). I am really looking forward to finding out how dreamstorming winds up working for you.
I too am always looking for a process. Like Melissa, I tend to take what I can from one that speaks to me and adapt it to my own (which, granted, still needs lots of refining *g*)
I agree, Melissa: processes are made to be tailored.
Thanks for following my blog!
It sounds like a very interesting process. I would be hard put not to write down dialgogue, etc., especially if you’re “hearing” it when you think of the scene. Still, processes were made to be tailored to your own preferences, so maybe adding that dialogue wouldn’t be too bad? :-)