Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Where To Begin

It struck me, writing about the Designated Author’s novel idea, that the preliminary work I put in included one of the few times that I actually began at the beginning with an opening sentence. Hurray for me!

The fact that I wrote nothing more on this one is beside the point. After all, I was simply writing up the character histories and trying to wrestle the out-there plot into submission, and nothing more. But when it comes to my own writing, or the projects collaborating with Work Buddy, on most occasions the first line never comes first.

This could be down to my sometime appalling memory or, ah......... oh, yeah, the fact that when we’re cooking something up, and ideas are zinging in every direction, I try and get them down on paper before they get steamrollered over. Which means I very rarely start at the beginning.

Putting the stories together I tend to start from the inside and work my way out. Writing the book earlier this year, as I started to block out the plot, the first thing I wrote ultimately finished up on page 233 of the finished draft.

While that was an ‘exciting incident’ to fire up my imagination, it’s not simply a case of writing the really fun stuff first and leaving the connective tissue until last because, well, it just ain’t as exciting. True be told, it's the quiet moments between characters that I like the most. So character descriptions, locations and scraps of dialogue all get hurriedly scribbled onto record cards, scratch pads or quickly typed into separate Word documents.

Gradually it all coalesces into a whole. The worry is, if I don’t write it then and there, whether I’m at my desk or out and about, scrabbling for a pen, it’ll be forgotten. Which means that outline, treatment and script leave the gate together, jockeying for position.

As a work habit, it didn’t seem unusual until the Designated Author told me I had a bizarre way of writing. This, from someone who is sometimes just bizarre.

It may not be right, but the results are the same. So is this the way everyone else does it? Or am I writing wrong?


At 12:24 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

I could be wrong, but if the end goal is reached, you should take whatever route suits you to get there, shouldn't you?

Like I know what I'm talking about...

At 5:48 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...

Yeah I don't know if there is a 'wrong' way to write if the job gets done and it works. Suppose it depends who or what you are writing for. You couldn't get away with handing in a handful of different 'scenes' on separate pieces of paper to a network and call it an outline for a tv episode. But you're not saying that, I think. You're saying you come up with pieces and build it out from there. If that's your work method for writing said outline, the network wouldn't necessarily see your process - just the end result. But even then, something becomes your 'first sentence'...whether or not you wrote it first or not.

I tend to come up with or want to nail down my first sequence (where it begins), and my notion of where it ends. And then I'll work forward through it or sometimes back to front. But I do tend to need those bookends to get the ball rolling at least.

At 6:59 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Writing the magazine articles I found that I needed the first sentence of the piece to set the tone.

Oh no, folk obviously only see the finished product. It's just the process of creating the finished piece 'mutates' out of these isolated elements.

The thought just came from being told I had a bizarre way of working. Although, in that instance, it came from not being told when the deadline was until it was two weeks before the deadline.

At 10:44 am, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Your way of working works fine for the stuff we work together on and I've never thought it bizarre.

Then again, I can't say I think you'd be all that bothered by the opinions of the person who said it - LOL! ;-)


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