Sure then I’m here! Digging for apples, yer honour!’
I’m looking for a scene. I started my first novel with a writing prompt at a seminar– I don’t remember the prompt but what popped to my brain was a woman holding tight to a miraculous medal and praying for a miracle.
That little scene of desperation, of pleading, of praying for a miracle, was the beginning of something. Since there is no story without a problem, something to conquer or work through, something to change, that is, I needed to discover what was upsetting her.
That woman clutching her miraculous medal stayed with me, moved in with me, so to speak.
Soon I had her walking against the wind in lower Manhattan, waiting for a train on a lonely subway platform and arguing with God. Bit by bit her struggles revealed themselves to me. Soon I had a name, more scenes, more characters and a few subplots. Soon is not really the right word, it took a long time for things to shape up and a story to develop. But it started with a scene that promised a conflict.
That’s what I’m looking for now.
You might tell me that the world is full of conflict, problems, characters with something to solve. And you would be right. Various characters offer themselves up, but so far nothing has stuck to start my next novel.
So I’m digging for apples.
I thought NaNoWriMo (November is National Novel Writing Month) would be a good place to get my engine going. I needed to produce more that 1600 words a day to finish the 50,000 by the end of November. Last year the challenge was a great help to me in moving my novel forward. This year I hoped the discipline of churning out that many letters on a page each day would help me find my next character or scene.
I started the month out with more words than the daily goal, a tiny bit of insurance against the slacker days. But, I petered out. Not a surprise. I am a slow writer. I dip and dabble. Try out this and that. Ramble on typing all sorts of stuff that makes little sense. That, after many years of trying to discover my rhythm as a writer, is how I work.
In one of my many ‘how to write’ books, a bestselling author said she never began a novel without having first figured it all out in her head and written an extensive outline. If I waited for that I’d never get anything done, and that includes writing out a grocery list.
I’m the kind of writer who discovers the story as it is being revealed to me. I don’t know how it’s going to end or who is going to show up. I don’t know what my characters are going to say until I see the words pop out on the screen from the tips of my fingers.
As I was making my attempt at the daily word count for NaNo, I discovered something. Sometimes writing gets in the way of writing. I was digging for apples, but I was digging in an empty field. (Really, I do know that apples don’t grow in the ground, but that Lewis Carroll was never restricted by mere facts).
Boy, oh boy, I’d really like a nice juicy apple to bite into. Hey, isn’t that what got Adam and Eve into all that trouble?