1000 words later

I’m trying to write 1000 words a day of fiction, in some form or another, just to try out different ideas. So after planning the bare bones of my novel yesterday I set out to write an opening scene or two. 1000 words, little or no editing, just aiming to get words down on the page.

So did I achieve 1000 usable words for my novel? No.

Was it worth the effort then? Yes!

By the end of those 1000 words I had learned several things about my novel.

I knew the Lead character was a kid who’s being bullied at school, but I’ve now learned that he is bullied because he wants to learn and is bright but those around him feel threatened by this and so pick on him. I’ve also learned that his English teacher, who you would think would support him, actually picks on him because he doesn’t dare show what he is capable of doing.

I’ve realised that the first few scenes really need to focus on his life as it is at the start, rather than plunging into the event that will change his life, because if we don’t know what it is like to start with, how can we truly appreciate the change? In the same way, I need to focus on showing the library as his own private refuge, because that will add so much more impact when the librarian shows up than if he’s just there the first time we see him enter the library.

Something else I learned was that I really, truly need to name my characters and flesh them out a lot more! It’s so hard referring to Lead and Bully, and difficult to come up with anything more imaginative than Charlie and Billy on the fly.

So I spent some time on the web, finding a random name generator and then a random word generator, and now have lots of ideas for naming things. The random word generator was also fascinating, because I would come up with a word, write it down, look at it, and then know who that character was, what she was like and what her life was like.

So much of this feels like mining a seam of story out of a rock bed, as though the story already exists, and it is my job to dig it out and discard what doesn’t belong. I keep thinking of a sculptor, who can look at a piece of solid rock and see the shape inside it. While I am really feeling my way very carefully, it does feel as though I am not making these things up, but rather tapping into what already exists and simply giving it solid form.

And that, to me, is the beauty of writing, the high that I continually seek amongst all the lows of struggling to find time and motivation; the one thing that keeps me returning to writing, vowing that this time I’ll make it through to the end. That moment when the characters and story take over and tell themselves with me merely the channel by which they become heard.



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