I opened this page and looked at it for about half an hour, then I realised I was looking at the subject of the blog.
That’s right, the blank page. It’s either a curse or a blessing. I’ve always looked on it as a curse. I’ve spent several delirious weeks developing a story and characters, and I have my notes on another piece of computer paper.
That blank page terrifies me. Will the story translate well on to the page, or will it die a death? Or will I have to fight to tell the stories, stop part way through when the characters turn out to be different than the planning said they were?
More often than not, the latter is what’s happening to me. I have a very tight deadline coming up, and I haven’t finished the book. But that’s because I had to stop when the character revealed hidden depths I really wanted to explore. I could have written the story fast, the way I’d planned it, and hit the deadline with time to spare. But I didn’t think that would be doing justice to the character, or the story. So I stopped and spent a long time thinking. Around a week. That’s why I write fast, because usually, I’ve worked through the story before the dreaded blank page appears. But I seem to be entering another level, because I often want to stop and, if not take the plot in a different direction, then work it through a bit deeper.
Plus, I suck at writing beginnings. Endings—piece of cake. I know them and the story by then, and so I know when I’ve written the last sentence. They want me and the reader to go away so they can get on with their lives. It’s a hill a writer has to get through. Invariably I start writing, and it goes now. I’m getting better, but then, after fifty-odd books, it’s about time I did. When I first started, I used to write out what I wanted to, backstory, planning meetings, all that—then I’d delete it. I needed to write it to get going. The reader didn’t need it, though, so out it went. I’ve seen published books with those scenes in, and wondered why the editor didn’t get tougher, but perhaps the author fought for them. “How will the reader know that my hero is a dragon shifter if I don’t tell them?” Maybe when he does the dragon thing, they might. That’s what teachers of writing mean when they say action, not words, is needed. Don’t tell, show. It’s much more exciting.
Beginnings I have great problems with, which is probably why sending in the first three chapters of a book isn’t a good idea for me. My editors have to work with me to get it right. Once that’s sorted out, I’m away. I love middles, when everything is getting unravelled, and endings, when it works out, but beginnings—no.
So yes, the blank page. I seem to have filled this one. See what I mean about beginnings?