On Writing

Everyone wants to write a book… right? Many stop at the wanting, dreaming stage and never get around to the actual writing. For some, it’s a matter of writing “someday, when I have time, and they assemble a writing station, buy a dozen pencils and a stack of pads and a nice desk lamp and wave at it every time they pass by.” For a few, it is “right now” and once they get started, they can’t stop. For me, it is “every chance I get,” which isn’t often enough.

I had written a few short stories, nothing published, but when I started writing my first novel, I knew what I wanted to say, but I got stuck on page 33. I discovered rewriting is easier than writing a first draft. So… the first 33 pages were very polished. Almost perfect. Until I looked at it ten years later. I did sort of finish that one after great struggle, but it was too short (43,000 words) and too predictable and good practice. I sent out query letters and sample pages and the whole bit and collected enough rejection letters (or notes) to fill a file and not one nibble. Was I disappointed? Yes. Discouraged? No, because I discovered I liked the process of writing, and publishing is not as important as writing to me. By the way, because I am a teacher and have that experience and interest in that age group, I now write middle grade children’s novels.

Of course I’d like to see my name on the cover of a book. Maybe. Someday. But what I really get into is the characters. When I write, I think of a situation (a “what if” question) and assemble characters to be in the situation. What if a young boy had to go live with a maiden aunt whom he doesn’t know. Or what if it was a young girl who had to live with her reclusive bachelor uncle? I chose this one because I could already see the characters in my mind. I already knew them. Once I write the first couple of chapters and a “target” for the ending, I know I can finish it.

How can you come up with intersting characters? That is the question for today’s post: How do you develop interesting characters?

2 Responses to “On Writing”

  1. 1 Debbie B February 10, 2010 at 5:50 am

    Hey, is your first paragraph about me? I spend more time writing about why I don’t have time to write than actually writing. Maybe some day I’ll break out of this cycle.

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