The Writing Process

Or: Why my novel took ten years to write.

Day 1

Time to write again!

Oh joyous day! I shall concoct another precious jewel of a yarn, another crashing wave in the mighty flowing torrent of my life's work!

To start with we must have a zinger opening paragraph that draws the readers in, strings them along innocently for a sentence or two, then delivers a sucker punch and knocks them for a loop. How shall I bait the hook? Let us try this:

The lecture hall was packed. I had arrived early and positioned myself about two thirds of the way back, near a big floor-to-ceiling window. The speaker had the rapt attention of the audience - except for me. A little bird was perched on a branch just outside the window. It was staring fixedly at me. I stared back.

There, that will do nicely. The reader, curiosity aroused by this narrator who is oddly out of sync with the crowd, will not fail to go on and read the next paragraph.

But the next paragraph must wait for another time. Having done my duty to my art, I shall spend the rest of the day watching Star Trek reruns.

Day 2

Ah, another day, another time to write!

I'm quite pleased with my first paragraph. It sets a scene, then introduces an anomolous element, a mystery. Why in the world is that bird staring at the narrator?

What now? Shall I paint in more of the scene? Introduce another mystery? Thicken the plot? Yes to all three!

With effort, I turned my attention back to the speaker at the podium. She was the star attraction this year at my college's Public Affairs Symposium, a noted newspaper columnist whose commentaries on politics and the national scene had won her numerous awards. She was displaying remarkable poise in front of the audience of highfalutin academics, a fact all the more remarkable considering her sordid origins of which only I was aware. I smiled as I thought of that little piece of paper in my wallet that could send her packing right back to the gutter if I chose to use it.

Heh, that should do it. A famous person with a point of vulnerability, an Achilles Heel, and our narrator holds the cards. If that doesn't suck the reader in, I don't know what will.

But I'm hungry. Hmm, no food in the house, guess I'll have to go out. Maybe Macdonalds or Arby's. I'll bring home a bag of potato chips and munch on them while I watch more Star Trek reruns. A six-pack of Bud Light wouldn't hurt either.

Day 3

(To be continued. Or not.)

Copyright © by John Remmers.