Joyous tidings, my kittens! As of a few days ago, I have finished the first draft of the novel I was working on. It’s a story very different from any of my others: adult instead of YA or MG, vaguely sci-fi instead of fantasy, and just generally difficult to categorize. It had been in progress for over two years, since the fateful autumn when I started it, thinking it would be a one-month NaNoWriMo commitment. (Ha! Ha! Ha!) Before that, there was maybe a year of the idea pestering me until I went from “That’s kind of neat, but I don’t know how to write that story” to “All right all right FINE!”
So I wrote it! And it was fun! Buuut, figuring out how exactly to end it has been killing me for months. (“I told you I didn’t know how to write this kind of story!”) When things finally fell into place, I went on a writing binge and didn’t stop until I hit the end. Now, everything is happy happy fun writing-whatever-I-want times! By which I mean editing The Dogwatchers, one of my completed manuscripts, which is so close to my heart that it’s in danger of being sucked into a ventricle.
Since I’m editing The Dogwatchers now, I took a scene from that manuscript to my writer’s group yesterday. This scene earned me an excellent piece of writing advice from one of the other group members, which I thought I’d share.
When the scene began, our heroine had just walked into an unfamiliar room, where she was meeting some friends. I started by describing the room, then situated the characters in it. One of the other writers said, “Oh, I do that – setting up the location first, and then kind of putting the characters in it. One of my readers recommended that I start with the characters – describe the setting through them.”
I love this advice. It makes so much sense. After all, when you walk into a room that has people in it – people you know or who are relevant to you – doesn’t your attention usually go to them first? Unless the room’s physical features are truly bizarre, I myself am probably more likely to notice the people first, and then the room as it is situated around them.
(Note that this may not hold true if the people aren’t ones connected to you in any way and/or if you’re there specifically to see the room – like if you’re touring a historic building, or if you walk into a museum and it’s full of anonymous crowds.)
Also in “handy, well-phrased writing advice,” this note on worldbuilding.
So that’s how my spring is going so far! Have you heard any good writing advice lately?