When I studied for a Masters in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, everyone said, ‘Just write’ when I splashed around wondering how to start.
I know that’s important, but I needed tips and found people lacking any useful ones. Obviously, each personality will respond to different strategies, but I thought I’d share mine. As time has passed I’ve come up with a list of points to consider when I start writing a scene for my manuscript. Half the time I still write a load of shit, but at least I feel more comfortable about curling it out.
8 points/questions to guide my writing.
- Is the scene relevant? What is its point?
- Is there a cliff-hanger/pull forward?
- Is there a conflict or a complication?
- What is happening that will extract an emotional response from the reader?
- How will I write the scene in an interesting way?
- How does the place/environment influence the atmosphere/mood?
- Can I include symbolism? (Ha – I’m not brainy enough for this, but I like to keep it in mind).
- How will the current scene reference previous ones and lay a foundation for the ones to follow?
After finishing the scene, I leave it a day then return to it, reading it aloud, and ask:
- Have I used the best language?
- Does it sound like the protagonist? Refer to the ‘strongest’ scene written and compare the feel of it.
- What do I need to layer in from the following: dialogue, setting, internal monologue, details for the five senses?
After completing the current draft of the manuscript, I will print it off and edit it on paper as this reveals a million more mistakes/edits to be made.
The most important tip is to enjoy it. If I’m not enjoying the writing, I know it’s wrong and I need to scrap what I’ve started, go back to brainstorming, and go in at a different angle.
Finally, the last point is to remember that a novel takes time. Only steps, small steps, will lead me to the finished and final draft.