If you ever wanted to read blogs about blank pages, now is the time. A million and one authors will be posting blog posts about how important it is to get started, conversations about blank pages, and ways to get past writer’s block.
I generally don’t get writer’s block. The question isn’t if I will put something to the page, it is if I will want to read it in the morning. After a long amount of time without writing, I tend to second guess every word that appears. I will write it, it will stay there, but I can’t help but wonder if it will derail my whole novel if it stays.
For those who have read my past couple of blog posts, you know that for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, I decided to do a sequel. I am writing a follow up to my Nano from last year, Corpfall. It is a cyberpunk novel that follows a government agent and her hacker partner.
Unfortunately, a lot happened in Corpfall, and I’m not usually the type to do sequels. I forgot exactly how much happened in the first novel, and this left me questioning exactly what my characters should be doing, and why. I knew what I wanted to physically happen, the main character was going to open the novel on an adventure, go in blazing like she did in the first novel.
Ashleigh looked out the doors of the lightplane, the shimmer of a million lights dotting the SeaVan cityscape. The air whistled beneath her, the lightplane moving invisible through the city sky. She took a breath, and leaped.
Then, I froze up. Ashleigh needed to be suffering from the action of the last novel, but what did that mean. When Corpfall closed, Ashleigh was hurt, and holding a small drive that was important to a major villain, without Ashleigh knowing what the drive was. I was skipping the aftermath of that, and jumping straight to more action, so now I had to ask myself, what was my intent with the end of the last novel.
I pushed forward, ignoring my reservations. If I didn’t know what was going to happen in the greater story, I could at least see what was going to happen when Ash beat up a bunch of nameless thugs. As I continued, I let the action tell me what themes I wanted to see. For one, Ashleigh would have one personality change from the previous novel. Her previous partner, Fuller, was a paranoid and nervous man. Ashleigh was never suspicious, her character was based on her complete trust of her superior officers. These were the people who trained her, enhanced her, and kept her alive.
This new Ashleigh is a little different.
“Is there any additional information on the target?” Ashleigh asked. She regretted the words as soon as they were out of her mouth. Ashleigh was sure they both received the same mission briefing. If anything, Ashleigh’s information on Samantha Fields was more indepth than Twain’s. Still, something was making her nervous.
Not the smoothest execution, but I’m on a time limit. Ashleigh doesn’t have the same complete trust. She isn’t Fuller, but unlike Fuller, she isn’t a hacker with information at her fingertips. This is going to be important later, but for now it is just a small hint to the reader of Ashleigh’s behavior.
Suddenly, a flood was released, and I knew what hints I needed to lay in this first chapter. For genre writing in particular, I think one of the most important aspects is laying eggs of intrigue, and then growing them to fruition. Even if an idea isn’t brought up until the end of the book, it will be satisfying to the reader if they were paying attention. For instance, in the first Corpfall novel, a throwaway name brought up around the middle of the book ends up being related to the conclusion of the novel. It isn’t critical, it isn’t a moment that make the reader go ‘why would you hide that information from me?’ It is a small nod that makes you see what the characters see, that the plot twists in life can’t always be seen a mile away.
In the end, the first day wasn’t easy, but I got 2,166 words in. I gave myself a small headstart into finishing my 50,000 words, but that won’t make tomorrow any easier. See you folks in a few days!