Saturday, November 8, 2008


I'm starting the third book. At least, I keep telling myself I'm starting. So far, I've written almost 5,000 words and I've deleted more than half of them. Starting a book is like starting a car with an engine defect. You know those cars that grrr and grumble, the engine hinting that it might turn over more than twice but taking its own good time doing it.

I always begin with a gimmick. Never works. Then I try another gimmick. That doesn't work either. Finally, in desperation I might make it to the story, but I always seem to start too soon. I know agents prefer that sudden jolt that draws attention, but I seem to be stuck in the era when authors took time to set the stage before bringing all the actors on. I get over it eventually but only after hours of anguish. It's those false starts that kill me.

I actually started this book long before I finished the second novel. At 30,000 words, I sent it to one of my betas who absolutely hated it. I revised and sent it again, but she still hated it. I put it on the shelf to gather dust for a while and picked up something that had been floating around in my mind. I put that on the page and then took a fifteenth look at my previous effort. The beta, as always, was right. It sucked, so I deleted it (except for some very good stuff that I thought I might use in the future) and began afresh with a new title and a new premise. Only the names of the characters remained.

I will get started. I know that, but that first hump is the biggest and most difficult to maneuver. It's not as easy as saying, "Once upon a time," but believe me that's exactly how I'd like to start. I suppose my tenacity is what makes me a writer, that unfailing unwillingness to just let things lay. Without it, I'd be one of the thousands who keep saying, "One day, I'm going to write a novel." I've written a novel. In fact, I've written two and the third, well the third may actually be on its way.


Gini Koch said...

Starting is an art, just like the rest of writing. And knowing when and how comes with time and experience -- it's the rare writer who knows, right off the bat, how and when to start each story.

Ending is an art, too. Knowing when to stop, and when you've stopped too soon or too late.

It all comes with writing, more and more and more. You have the talent, you have the drive, you have the ability. You just need to keep at it, and one day, you'll realize you started the book at the exact right moment and ended it at the exact right moment, and all the stuff in between is right, too. It's a lovely feeling. :-D

WKEverhart said...

Thanks, Gini. Starting is as much an art as writing, complicated, harrowing, difficult to the extreme, all of these. Someday, maybe soon, I'll master the art of starting, and then...I'll be at least half-way to becoming a writer.