Thursday, January 03, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - New Beginnings



Being January 2nd and the start of a brand new year here at The Pink Heart Society the lovely Bronwyn Jameson is here to talk about new beginnings...which she says is particularly fitting because her new book VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM is the launch title in a brand new continuity from Silhouette Desire titled DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER...



How do you feel about the start of something new? I'd love to say I find beginnings -- to a new year, a new career, a new kind of book, a new project -- exciting and empowering and exhilarating. And I do…mostly. Except when the new start means letting go something old and much loved, which can be difficult and sad and at times straight-out terrifying.

I love the start of a new year because of the symbolic clean slate. It’s lovely to look back on the past year’s achievements and to consider what I learned from the mistakes. That’s much more positive than considering them failures. I like setting new goals -- hate resolutions; love goals! – because with them comes the opportunity to shed old, bad habits in favour of a stronger, healthier (mentally as much as physically) me. I also love the start of a new year for the fireworks and champagne, but that's digressing. J

Even more than starting a new year, I love starting a new writing project. I adore the process of developing an idea, of adding substance to the initial shadowy characters and conflicts. I love deciding on settings and jobs and other externals, and linking them to character and conflict. I love all the thinking and building and get tingly buzzes of excitement when the internal and external connect in (what I think is) a clever way.

You might have guessed from that statement that I’m a plotter not a pantser. Actually I’m an over-plotter. I wish I could just dive in and start writing and discover my story through the places my characters take me. That would be such beautiful bliss.

But, alas, I am not good at starting to write. When it comes to typing that first sentence to start the story, just hand me the Olympic gold in procrastination and be done with it. I can write a book of excuses for not starting in the time it takes me to get that first scene down. I actually prefer writing the synopsis -- yes, shock, horror!!!--to chapter one.

It's not that I don't know where to start. I always have the inciting incident, the point of change. I know what throws my hero and heroine together and how they'll react. I’ve GMCed them to within an inch of their lives.

My problem is coming up with The Opening Line. (Capitalised because of the significance and importance.) Some writers are brilliant with openers. Sadly, I am not one of them. Often during the plotting and thinking stage I will come up with what I think is a decent opening, but when I start writing it doesn’t work. At least not as line one.

I think this is just me and my personal need to set up that golden line...kind of like the punchline of a joke. It's all about the timing. A few sentences setting character, situation, setting, and then kapow! Hit ‘em with the punchline. Other authors do brilliantly by opening with the killer line, and one of these days I swear I am going to join them!

While thinking about starts, I recalled that old adage: Start as you aim to continue. I think that’s applicable to the start of a year or a project or a book or a day, don’t you? It covers everything from attitude to tone to commitment. I have this scene checklist. I don’t use it for every scene; I don’t consult it before starting a new scene; but that’s partly because it’s buried somewhere in my writer’s psyche. I think I subconsciously run the check, and one of the items on it is “dominant tone”. I want to start a scene – or a book – in the dominant tone with which I aim to continue.

So, what do you love about new starts and how do you like to start a new project? Do you plunge right in or do you test the water one toe at a time? Are you a plotter, do you collage, conduct character interviews…or do you need nothing more than a starting situation to launch you into chapter one?

There’s a copy of VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM, Bronwyn’s brand new book, as a giveaway to one of the commenters, to be drawn January 3.

Visit the website at http://www.diamonds-downunder.com/ for the skinny of this unique author-led series and for the chance to win some fabulous prizes including editor critiques and a diamond pendant. Jewellery and a chance to sidestep the slush pile -- what more could a writing gal want?

17 comments:

  1. I love starting a new book - mostly because it's exactly that a new book. And I can see ALL the problems of the old one and hopefully I'll be able to fix them in this new attempt. But I also love it for the characters - getting to know new characters and how they're mind tick really excites me. I'm still working out my novel process, but I usually work out GMCS, do a bit of background of the characters and a brief (very brief) plot outline and then plunge in.

    Really enjoyed your post Bron!

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  2. Fancy commencing a New Year with a read by Ms Jamieson. Learning she doesn’t jump from the blocks with pen blazing as I’ve always imagined.

    Bronwyn, this is a timely article because I’m in the middle of ‘Vows & A Vengeful Groom’ and I’ll confess to wondering for a time if you started writing with the first chapter. A strange thought from me because I read for pleasure and rarely play technical analysis games within ‘my’ story. I’m Caesar for poor competing authors; a twitch of my thumb is all it takes to condemn one.

    Now I’m wondering how you got into this writing business in the first place. ----- There is no hidden message in that question ‘Vows & A Vengeful Groom’ has my thumb raised high above my head. It’s another masterpiece from the farm that produces the best reads. --- Thank you, Eric

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  3. Bron, when I start a new book I firstly ask myself what the plot will be. It's usually nothing indepth, just a thought about the story. The book I'm working on at the moment for Desire is about a heroine who can't have a child, and a hero who needs to marry and produce an heir to fulfil an ultimatum given by his father.

    Then I start to expand on that, and oddly enough I need to figure out the characters' names and if possible a title for the book (even if my editor changes that later on).

    Once I gather those details, I develop the storyline, writing down an outline of 10 chapters and figuring out what will go in each chapter.

    I hate using charts and trying to figure out all that GMC stuff. The furthest I go with that is asking myself "what do these characters want, why do they want it, and what's stopping them from getting it". Which is really just a basic GMC.

    Oh, and I really love writing opening lines. *g*

    And I have told you lately that I really love the cover of your Diamonds Down Under book. It's gorgeous!

    Maxine

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  4. Hey, Bron, congratulations on the new release. Can't wait to read it. The continuity sounds fabulous. I must say I love starting a new book - there are such infinite possibilities that it will measure up to the picture in my mind. Happy New Year, everyone!

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  5. I'm definitely a goals, rather than resolutions, gal. There's something about that particular R word that seems to give me subconscious permission to toss it in a week later.

    Congrats on your latest book, Bron.

    Jennie

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  6. Bron, you unnatural woman - you actually enjoy synopses? Argh! I'll have to corner you one day in the hope that you can teach me to love them too.

    Couldn't agree more about the lure of a new beginning. They're wonderful, aren't they? All that promise, the idea of exciting scenes yet to be written and enjoyed, the lack of badly written ones to be fixed...(G)! I'm much less of a plotter than you. I'm happy to leap in and start a scene even if I don't know the rest of the story. It's invigorating and fun and there's always so much energy involved. Even if I don't have the story mapped out I know what the conflict is between hero and heroine and that gets me moving. After a couple of chapters though I have to stop and work out more of the story.

    I'm looking forward to getting my hands on your book.

    Happy new year!

    Annie

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  7. Hi, Rach. I love that you use what you see as shortcomings in your last book to fix the new. That's growth and that's terrific. Also much applause for you plunging right in. I really admire writers who can do that. I'm much too afriad that the water will be cold. Or shark infested. :-)

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  8. Hi Eric! You are sooooo good for my ego and for that, I thank you. I'm sitting here, down on the farm, smiling at the image of me and a blazing pen. I tend to move at a snail's pace when I'm starting out, although by the last chapters I've usually built up a bit of hot speed!

    As for how I got into writing -- that's a really good question seeing as I'm more of the scientific, analytical bent. But, OTOH, I've always loved to lose myself in a story. Creating what I love to read was the next step.

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  9. Hi, Maxine. Great to see you here. Your storyline "a hero who needs to marry and produce an heir" is one I adore. I had such fun with it doing my Princes of the Outback.

    Yep, what you said is GMC in a nutshell. I don't do the charts per se either, but I know all about the characters' needs and fears and wants and desires. And what's driving them and preventing them. I think we all know this, whether we write it down, chart it, or whether it's in our head.

    As for loving opening lines -- if you have any spare ones, just send 'em my way! *g*

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  10. Hi Anna, Jen, Annie. All the best people hang out here at PHS! *g* Thanks for the congrat's on VOWS. As you can tell, this is a special project that I'm extra excited about.

    Jen, is it because it's an "r" word, do you think?

    Annie, I envy your ability to leap enthusiastically into the story. I need to practice a fearless warrior woman approach. I did this once -- my very first book -- and it was exhilirating. I MUST do this again.

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  11. For 2008 I want to learn to quilt so I bought a book and am writing lists of what I need and going over instructions. I don't know what the outcome will be but it is exciting to start out with the possibilities of what I might be able to do.

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  12. Maureen, quilting strikes me as a terrifically creative craft. I love the use of patterns and colours and you get a finished product that's not only decorative but eminently useful. Good luck with it. Hope you enjoy the starting and the doing and the finished products.

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  13. Jen, is it because it's an "r" word, do you think?

    Yes. Resolution. Renege. Mind association. Hah.

    Jennie

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  14. Mind association, definitely.

    Meant to say earlier how much I love the picture of the pencil-balancing. I so relate to any form of ms avoidance some days!

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  15. I have drawn the winner of my giveaway. Congratulations to Rachael Blair. Email me Rachael with which version you would prefer -- Nth American or Australian.

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  16. Ooh, Rachel. You're in for a treat!

    Maxine

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  17. Thank you so much! I absolutely can't wait to get it! And I can't wait to read the rest of the Diamonds Down Under series either.

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