We had a NaNoWrimo regional meeting yesterday, in a local coffee shop where the double espresso has less effect on me than a baby Tylenol on a sumo wrestler.* And we got to chatting about our first/zero drafts. What we put in, what we leave out, that sort of thing.
I tend to write sparse first drafts. They’re dialogue heavy, especially when I’m really hammering out the plot. A lot of ‘he said, she said, it said’**. I always go back and add in the description and setting and shit every time I finish a chapter, and there’s a lot of places where it needs to be added, because it might as well be happening in a vacuum.
That’s because I write fast. I like to write fast, and description slows things down.
But sometimes it’s worth slowing down and taking the time to do scenes right the first time. Sometimes a scene can’t happen without description. Sometimes the dialogue plays too much on the setting. Sometimes you just want to write something other than two stick people shouting at each other in a white void.
And sometimes it’s worth thinking a little more about an important thing. Why is it so important to the story? To the character? Is it loved? Hated? Important things can be both, and usually are.
So, today’s challenge is this: write about one of your character’s most treasured items. Take the thing that they would put their hand in a fire to get, and tell us what it is. Go beyond looks: what does it feel like, smell like, taste like? Where is it broken? What shadow does it cast on the scene? Why do they love it so much?
And then, if you’re feeling like a real dick, think of a way to destroy it.
(I have something to announce: I crossed 50,000 words this morning. And by this morning, I mean at around 6:30 am. It was an early rise today.***
But the challenge is not yet met. Because my plan wasn’t to do 50,000 words. Oh no. My plan was to have a complete draft of this novel by Christmas.
In other words, I have another 75,000 words to go.
Let the race begin.)
*If it doesn’t feel like I’ve been punched in the heart, it’s not working.
** Fun part of writing fantasy and horror: playing the pronoun game with monsters.
***You know what’s weird? Running before dawn. Seriously, that shit feels post-apocalyptic.