Adventures in novel writing. Internal chatter and trying not to sound like a crazy person.
Is it ever a bad thing to have too many ideas? To have more than one story whirling around in your mind? I guess that depends on how your brain filters and manages the internal chatter.
I was really excited to begin this year with work on my World War One story, Here Lies a Soldier. I’ve continued my research and note taking for points to include in the story but all the while other voices have been ‘whispering’ in my ear. (Not literally. I promise I’m not crazy. I think…) Small Cuts is a piece that was inspired by a dinner out with friends. A dinner in which I was left largely out of the conversation and free to observe the diners at the tables around me. (This is not a complaint about my experience at dinner, mind you. I am always a ready and willing observer of people.)
After initially writing the opening scene from one perspective, I expected to be done with it. But then another figurative finger tapped on my shoulder and indicated that she wanted to talk. Who am I to pick and choose when there is another side to the story? The same thing happened with the other members of this quartet until finally I’d ‘spoken’ to all of them, gained insight into what each of them was experiencing, feeling and remembering. Now I was done. Or was I?
I had no plans to pick up the thread of this story, but one by one, each of these characters began to continue their report of the events that evening. I had no choice but to listen and record. Yep, sounds crazy.
Such is the life of a writer. In your world, characters talk to you and to each other. It often keeps you awake at night. It makes your mind wander in the middle of a family gathering, a business meeting or during a class. Your family, friends, coworkers and teachers are not amused. Sometimes those internal conversations are so real to you that you continue them out loud, to the confusion of those around you.
The thing is, that internal chatter is essential to good writing. “Hearing” the voices talking, listening to an invisible narrator spin a tale, visualizing the scene, debating the sides of an issue during conflict; that is writing, writing without committing the words to paper.
But what if there’s a bunch of different ‘voices’ talking and shouting over the others? My dilemma is whether I should write both stories simultaneously or focus on one over the other. I have already delayed the writing of the war story to finish a novel in my series and I’m not inclined to push it off again. Can I successfully write both stories together? Perhaps. They are different enough from each other not to overlap in plot or dialogue. Each story would only be a first draft, but… how does the saying go? The only bad first draft is the one you haven’t written. So are two first drafts better than one? Do you see how I keep asking questions in this post instead of providing answers? This is me thinking out loud. I really haven’t figured out how to negotiate peace between the warring muses and let all the sides have their say.
Thanks for listening to the ramblings of a crazy writer!