ness writes about writing

Snapshots of a Future Novel

Often I do little planning for a writing project; I set out what needs to happen and then simply plop myself down and write. I’ve never really gotten very far with giving detailed background to characters – the background comes as they are written; as they take a personality.

But, with the help of OneNote, I’ve been experimenting. Planning and plotting. I’ve found simply writing snippets of dialogue helpful.

For instance:

“I’m going to kill him,” announced the woman.

 She was met with disbelieving stares.

 “I am.” she insisted, voice trembling.

 “You couldn’t harm a worm,” said Robyn.

 “I stabbed you didn’t I?”

 It gives more flavour than the dry lines of “character A wants to kill character Z” … but it also gives me questions – why has she stabbed Robyn? Does she consider him a threat? Why does Robyn think her weak? Who are the people giving her ‘disbelieving stares’?

Robyn glared at him.

 “You know,” said Will, “the ballads are wrong about you – they say you are merry.”

 “Nay,” countered Robyn, “they say that my men are merry.”

 “To make up for their leader’s failings, no doubt.”

So I’m writing potential pieces of dialogue which may or may not be included in the actual novel. Yes, it may change – these things often do – but it gives me an idea, a tone. A snippet of a character, a setting, a plot. It tells me that maybe this character needs to be like this or avoid that; that this is an exciting twist or that is simply bonkers.

And as these little snapshots come – erratically, from the beginning, the middle and the end – the ideas flow. And the story grows.

from the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Happy Christmas!

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