300 words Arizona quote

August 10, 2013

Last night I wrote 300 words in my current novel. It wasn’t much – a little paragraph and a snippet of a scene. But there was something about it that was immensely satisfying.

And then I figured out what was so great about 300 words. They were my words. My style and my voice and the thing about this story that makes it something only I could write.

I’ve actually been feeling kind of alienated from this story for the past few weeks, and I couldn’t figure out why. I really like the characters and love the premise and am sort of proud of myself that I figured out a plot. But I really haven’t wanted to write it much. This is even the first draft so I don’t have to worry about it being good – I just need to get the story written down. For this one I’ve mostly been writing dialog – which certain people are always encouraging me to write more of so it would seem like everything is going good. And yet…

But after I wrote those 300 words I realized – it’s that I’ve mostly been writing dialog. And dialog is good in general and also the dialog I’ve been writing is good. It’s true to the scene and the characters and not totally useless chatter. But the thing about dialog, especially in a contemporary novel, is that it’s not supposed to sound like me. Each of the characters needs to have their own speaking style and none of them should sound like me. I’ve put particular effort into making sure the guys don’t sound like me.

Which is all a good thing – but has resulted in a novel that, so far, doesn’t sound anything like me. It doesn’t have my particular writing style or much of that flare I enjoy in my work. And it’s contemporary so it’s felt far too pedestrian for my taste.

Until those 300 words. 6 lines of dialog and two paragraphs that are my words and the story feels like it’s mine again and now I’m excited to keep working on this draft.

Arizona 300 Words

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2 responses to “300 words

  1. Dwight

    I love the fact that you’re letting us share your creative process. It’s a rare and special privilege to walk with you through the back story that will make our reading of your novel so much deeper and richer