There are a lot of things that can drain your creativity as a writer, but one of the worst is trying to edit while you are writing.
One of the important things to learn in writing quickly as well as writing effectively is not stopping and second guessing yourself about choices of words, sentence structure, spelling or grammar. Those are all things that can be fixed after the fact.
When you are writing your first draft, let yourself run free. Put down what comes out of your brain immediately. It’s always possible to go back and fix whatever it is that you think is wrong.
If you stop yourself from running free, you may miss creating something really different and interesting.
I will often write vital scenes without stopping (or stopping only a little). I want to get that rush of fresh thoughts down on the paper, especially when it comes to dialogue. Having the right pacing and words in dialogue often come easier when you just let it flow. It’s easy to go back and fill in what may be missing if you’ve got a good rhythm to your dialogue.
So – shut down your internal editor for that first draft. Let yourself explore new things and pour your heart out onto the paper. There will be time enough to fix things once you’ve finished the scene.
At the February meeting of the Liberty States Fiction Writers we were very lucky to have my friend and fellow author, Anna DeStefano, do a wonderful workshop on revisions. During the course of the workshop, Anna mentioned something which I truly believe – Characters are plot.
Why do I believe that? You may read a book that has a good plot – pacing works, premise is interesting. But if the characters leave you flat, you will forget that book almost as quickly as you read it.
Writing emotionally developed and interesting characters is, IMHO, key to creating a memorable book and plot. Why plot? you ask. Because it is the development of the characters and how they resolve their internal conflicts that creates the story arc of your plot. It is your job as a writer to craft scenes in which the characters are challenged to deal with their conflicts and advance until at the end of the novel, the characters have resolved those internal conflicts (or maybe just one of them if you are creating a series with the same characters).
For this reason, I totally believe that characters are plot. When you define your characters and how they need to grow, you can then build a story around that. When you do, you will have a book where your readers are always on the edge of their seats wondering whether or not the character will rise up to the occasion or fail. Readers will cheer for them and their hearts will break when the characters encounter problems.
When your readers finish your book, not only will you have given them a story that engaged them, but you will have touched them and created characters they will remember long after the books are sitting on a shelf.
Characters are plot. Remember that before you get started and your story will almost write itself.