Saturday, February 20, 2010

In Which I Write About Writing (Parenthetically)

Does anyone else out there get discouraged when they're revising and they read something remarkable?

A couple of days ago, a main character from the wrong novel (not the one I'm working on) kept trying to tell me something, and, and, when she wouldn't go away, I started writing it down. Halfway through I realized I'd written the first chapter of her story, and I really liked it. Squee! I wrote a first chapter (If you've been following this blog for very long, you know my writing is a bit chronologically challenged). The chapter reminded me of the first chapter of "Holes," by Louis Sachar because it was short. So I pulled out "Holes" and read the first chapter. Sachar's chapter was shorter (though only by about two hundred words) and just better than mine in pretty much every way possible, and I kept reading.

The first time I read "Holes," I thought I'd just read the first little bit, but the first chapter was so short that I kept reading. Afterwards, I realized what a great hook that incredibly short first chapter was, and it made enough of an impression that I remembered when I wrote my own really short first chapter. Maybe comparing my first (or even second) draft to a Newbery winner isn't such a great idea.

On the bright side, I still have my first chapter to add to a collection of interesting scenes (this character doesn't believe me when I tell her that her story isn't next in line) and two intense scenes that I wrote for the novel I'm supposed to be working on. I'm hoping to get another one or two done today.


  1. You did what you were supposed to do...write it down!

    When her story is ready, you'll have that little bit. Of course, maybe she is higher in the queue than you think....


  2. Boy, oh boy, some characters just don’t want to wait there turn.

  3. Thanks, Shelley. I have lots of bits of her story, so maybe she is higher up in the queue than I think she is. We'll see.

    I changed my last post to include a National Geographic short about rheas that I found on YouTube, if anyone is interested.

  4. I have a bunch of those first, sparkley chapters because I can't say no to the darn loud-mouthed characters in the beginning. I finally just started giving myself permission to cheat on the WIPs and write each chapter as I had the passion for it. Then once I get it out of my system I go back to #1 in the queue.

    Good luck! (And BTW, you won the scavenger hunt! Send me your email address for the gift card.)

  5. Squee! I love those times when they just write the first chapter for you!

  6. Sounds like you still got a lot done, Myrna. High-five to you!

    (But don't take too long with those star swans, since I can't wait to read about them.)

    And HOLES is amazing. Louis Sachar is amazing. Just tuck him right away for a few months:)

    P.S. ~Jamie, I recognize your name from a MSFV Secret Agent contest back in September, because you left an awesome comment on my entry (#7, SEE THE SAMELINGS). Thanks so much for that - it made my day:)