…But then, even here, maybe I’m being too prescriptive. Maybe you don’t need to have a whole over-arching plot in mind before you begin. Maybe you just need a scene.
If you can think of two characters who are in a conflict, then without a doubt you can write a chapter.
It can be about them resolving that conflict, about them failing to resolve it, about them making it so much worse. Once you have those two characters and that conflict, you can start writing it down.
Don’t worry about the prose style as you start off. Don’t worry if the dialogue seems unrealistic and stilted.
All of that can be changed later.
Seriously, I know what it’s like to read some published writer who you love, and then try to write your own stuff and think it’s nowhere near as good.
I also know what it’s like to read that published writer and to find that your prose style has started to echo theirs.
In the first instance though, that really doesn’t matter. If you are just starting out and this is your first day with the notepad and you have your ideas and your conflict, then don’t worry about what the words look like now.
If you are dedicated and are going to stick with writing, then that first draft will be pulled around and put back together and changed so many times before anyone lays eyes on it.
Remember this – as long as you feel good about it, nothing else in the first draft matters!
Today, when you’re writing, it’s just for you. It’s for you to start understanding the characters, to work through the ramifications of this conflict, to try to create a chapter that’s close to what you want it to be. Yes, the sentences may be wrong, the dialogue might be clunky, the characters might not be fully formed, even the conflict might not get near what you want it to be. But you have something down on paper. You have an arrow pointing in the sand that will guide you in the direction you want to go.
There are famous and hugely respected authors who wrote exactly in this way.
They say you should never meet your heroes. Sometimes you shouldn’t find out too much about them either…
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