Writing Hint #35: Let your characters loose

I read a short article about writing yesterday. It was in one of the many newsletters I receive about writing. The author was suggesting that the best way to finish a novel is to write the first 30 pages. “You are only 30 pages away from writing that novel” the author claimed.

The sad truth for so many would be authors is that they want to have written. They do not realise the incredible effort it takes to finish a novel. I’ve written three and a host of articles and short stories (among many other things). I know what it takes – dedicated effort and persistence.

There is one way to trick the brain into continuing with a novel and for getting it finished. This author is suggesting just write the first 30 pages and see what happens. What I find is this; the characters take over. No longer are you a puppeteer pulling the strings of the events in the lives of your characters. They take on a life of their own and before you know it, the story is writing itself, the characters are speaking for themselves and your brain is tricked into thinking that writing is the most wonderful thing to do in the world. The writing flows, ideas feed upon ideas, events tumble into the story and away it goes. It can be an exhilarating feeling when this all happens.

Try it.

Try getting down those first 30 or so pages and see what happens. Step back a little and let the characters speak and act in their own way. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Warning: This method does not work very well in some genres. For example, writing crime fiction is an exact craft. You must know exactly what is going to happen and plan the plot extremely carefully. Otherwise your readers will be exasperated by dozens of unresolved loose-ends at the end of the novel.

Good writing.


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