I have an idea, and I really like it, but I can't seem to get it down on paper. I'm always unhappy with the way it sounds written down and I takes me ages to write even a few paragraphs that are often scrapped because I don't like them. I was wondering what I could do to change that? Thank you so much :)
It’s funny you’re sending me this ask at this very moment— because this is something that I always deal with every time I start a new book. So, I’m going to share with you my super-duper secret way to overcome this.
But before that, I need to point something out.
The first draft of a story is not meant to sound good. I’ve said this a million times in the past, and I will keep saying it until the whole world gets it: The first draft of a book is not meant to be pretty, it’s meant to be the block of clay from which you will shape the second draft. Unlike sculptors we can’t just walk into a shop and buy clay, we need to make the clay by putting words on the paper.
Fun fact: I wrote a story called Justine’s Blood, and originally it started out with a long and boring exposition bit that I ended up cutting out altogether during the revision process. Boom. Suddenly the flow and the pacing improved and every one of my betas thought I was very clever.
What I’m getting to is that you need to give yourself the chance to suck. Write even when it doesn’t feel very good. You can always chop things out and replace them later. You can’t sculpt your story without the clay c;
Now, with that out of the way, it’s time to tell you my super-duper secret for improving the start of a story:
- Take a deep breath.
- Let it out slowly.
- Ask yourself this question: Who is narrating the story?
- Find that person’s voice.
Yes. I mean this. Even if you’re telling the story in 3rd Person Omniscient, there has still got to be someone who is telling the story. Even if it is some sort of invisible deity, a ghost, or a dark tentacle monster in the depths of space. Someone is telling the story, even if you don’t realize it.
This may seem like a very far-out piece of hippie advice, but I seriously mean it. I don’t think that we as writers come up with stories, I think we find them. We stumble upon them.
This process is a lot more straight forward if you write in 1st person, but the struggle is the same.
As some of you have read recently in my personal updates. Every time I start a new story I have basically the same issues as above. I have scrapped dozens of ‘first chapters’ because they didn’t ‘feel right’ and every time is the same reason. I was getting the voice of the narrator wrong.
Dear anon, take some time to step aside and ask yourself who is narrating the story of your book— and find their voice. Play around with the way you tell the story, tweak the words and the language as though a rogue picking a lock, and soon enough you will find the right voice… and the story will start to flow. I promise c;
I hope this helps! If you (or any of the writerly cuties reading this) have any questions, please send them my way :D