The Early Chapters

I’ve struggled recently with my manuscript (you can read an excerpt here) and connecting the first chapter to the next.

Do I spend some paragraphs on exposition?

How do you cover a significant amount of physical distance where nothing interesting happens? And do it without it feeling trivial or boring?

I’ve tried to answer these questions by writing and not thinking about it. But this has resulted in four different versions that I don’t like. That I keep throwing out. Maybe the process is honing on what I really want, but it seems like a blind dive.

I still enjoy writing the scenes. But eventually, it feels like I’m not making progress. This isn’t true, but it still feels that way. I think I’m drawing conclusions on what is working, but it’s slow and requires a lot of analysis not only of the text but also my own expectations.

My expectation and typical style is to avoid too much exposition. But in the fantasy genre and writing about new cultures or environments, readers usually need that to feel a part of the story and give them some ownership of understanding.

So balancing my style with what the reader needs is taking a lot of time.

What is so hard to keep in mind is what my friend Erin says best, “No writer consistently produces good stuff from their daily grind. So stick to the routine.”

True.

Trust the process.

You Probably Want Inspiration Too

Let’s face it: you have a hard time finding inspiration. 

Allow me to define that. 

Inspiration comes in a flash yet instills lasting courage and drive. It makes you want to get back to it, every morning, without fail. It gets you past the distractions, the imgurs, the forums, the quick memes and videos… the Internet. It makes you thirsty to get back into the trenches, fight in the scrum and the dirt, through the blood, sweat, and tears. 

Inspiration makes that shit exhilarating. I believe that inspiration lets you look beyond your frontiers, and lets you know, “Hey, that over there, those greener grasses? It’s in reach. Yeah, go get it.”


If you think that you’re struggling in your writing, finding it hard to place the pants to the seat, then you gotta look for some inspiration. These are hard to find. It will take time, and do not let the false inspirations get you. 

There is little worse than believing that you are inspired, only to burn out. You only have so many burn-outs in your tank. The discouragement from these is brutal. Really think, really believe that when you have found your inspiration, that it will take you far, push you to grow. 

After you’ve done that, the necessary stuff—the stuff that you kinda hate and avoid doing—makes sense, and you understand the purpose behind the brutal, daily work. You are officially inspired to chase your dreams, one step at a time.

Stomping on Writer’s Block

No one said it’d be easy. I know that and never expected revising my manuscript to be anything but difficult. But revising under deadlines are not to be messed with. I have about three weeks left to revise my manuscript into something fashionable for submission. I crunched the numbers for the minimum word count of 50,000.

I’d need to get through about 2500 words a day.

Let’s just say that one more time for comedic effect:

25-FREAKING-HUNDRED

Good. I think that was good for both of us to get out of our systems.

And well, when I ran the numbers, my head spun for a little bit. I paced around my cold room, blew into my hands, and slapped my face. Then I sat down and started. It’s been like that for a week now.
And, of course, the sleep is dropping off.

There may be a problem when I wake up and my computer is sleeping beside me on the bed like a faithful pet.

Sometimes, I laugh at myself as I wake it up from hibernation. “Yo, who told you you could sleep on the job? What do you mean I fell asleep first? Don’t talk back to me!”

But always, I keep going. Late at night, early in the morning, after you’ve finished work. These are the times when night-writers have to get their work in. Let’s be honest: we’re hardly in the mood when we think about it, but when we sit down, it’s glorious. Usually.

Sometimes, the mood isn’t there, manifesting its ugly head as “writer’s block.” But that stuff is just hearsay and scuttlebutt and boogeyman speak. I don’t buy it. You can get past any of your desires and false-gods pretending that you don’t have the chance to write. It’ll take some creativity, but luckily for you, that just happens to be up your alley.

Here’s a small list of things I do to jog myself into writing:
1. I get up and breathe deeply.

This kind of gets at why you feel sleepy at some parts of the day. Subconsciously, when we’re a little bored, we only take in shallow breaths. Something like running in energy-conservation mode. And your body, with less oxygen, feels more tired. So, get up, breathe a lot. Walk fast in tight two meter circles. I dunno. But breathe. Then, when you sit down, maintain good posture to keep the air flowing. I dare you to try it.

2. I find other ways to engage in my created world.

Are you writing a fantasy book? Do you have a map of all the crazy places your characters are going?  Why not? DRAW THAT RIGHT NOW. For me, it feels amazing drawing maps. It gets me involved with the world and I get down into the world itself, imagining the hills, mountain ridges, glades, rivers, plains, and run-down villages. You gotta do something that gets you back into the world.

3. Read out loud.

This serves two purposes. First, it lets you know that, yes your accents are truly as horrible as everyone says they are. I recommend doing this in public for truly pressured writing. Second, it manifests your characters in a totally different way for your mind. Some people can imagine the voices of their characters really well. That’s awesome, but for the rest of us, it can be helpful and comforting to have that character’s voice (even if it is yours) in the room with you.

4. Write your characters in a different setting.

I rarely do this, as the other methods are more effective for me, but I do think that putting your characters out of setting can help you gain a better feel for them. You get to know them better, and they’ll drive your (or their) story for you. It’s a little something like magic. I think you know what I mean.

Anyway, every writer is different but hopefully, some of you are kinda like me and these tips are helpful.