Thursday, June 18, 2009


Isn’t it funny the things that we struggle with in our writing?

I’d read so much about how many writers find dialogue difficult that I was completely and utterly prepared to be stumped by it but I LOVE writing dialogue. I love writing those loaded sentences and the non sequiturs.

I remember Cally telling us at one of the Novel Racer meets about how often her character woke up in the morning. I chuckled … and made a mental note to make sure my character hardly ever woke up in the morning (you know what I mean…)

I got my knickers in a twist recently about what day it was in my novel; something happens on a Sunday and it was crucial that I knew where I was so I went right back to the beginning to work it out. So that I could find the change of days again – I’d do a find search on the document - I made a note of the opening lines of each new day and made up a timetable. This is what it looked like:

MONDAY: Marina arrives and it’s the funeral.
TUESDAY: “The following morning, Marina’s body clock woke her at 5am.”
WEDNESDAY: “The following morning, as soon as Marina was conscious…
THURSDAY“The following days, Marina stayed mostly in her room curled up….”
SATURDAY: “On the Saturday lunchtime, Marina’s sixth day home…”
SUNDAY: “It was only when she was fully conscious that Marina realised…”
MONDAY: “The following morning Marina began to search for the book again.”
TUESDAY: “Marina woke just after midnight…” This is the early hours of Tuesday. And Page 165: “The following morning, Marina sat alone in the kitchen…”

Whoops. Boring boring boring. I’ve got work to do. (I'm not stopping the first draft to do the work... I shall fix it later but it doesn't do any harm in seeing the horrors now!)


liz fenwick said...

Excellent exercise and so important to do. I think in the first draft we need to just get the words down and sometimes that means relying on those props of the next day...which is the easy way to keep the story going :-)

Well done for seeing and for leaving it there for the moment!

L-Plate Author said...

I agree with Liz, JJ. My characters shrug and get to their feet an awful lot. If I'm struggling for a word or an action, I have them shrugging until I go back to it. My timing is all out etc. I can't remember if someone has brown or blonde hair.

But, I don't know how,when you edit it, you just know exactly what to leave, what to add to. It just clicks.

Keep on keeping on honey, you've done great to get this far. x

Carol and Chris said...

I agree with what has been said by Liz and L-Plate Author...your doing brilliantly and the fact that your already aware of these things will help you in the long run :-)

C x

ChrisH said...

Good point, JJ, (and a timely reminder of the 'hot drink' thing, too - just how many times can one character put the kettle on? Or curl up with a cup of tea?). Also true that you just need to get something down in the first instance.

Lane said...

This made me laugh, only because mine is so similiar.

Agree with the others, it's all first draft stuff and keeps the story going in a way we can track.

JJ Beattie said...

Liz, thanks m'dear. I don't like the mess behind me, but I am ignoring it!

LPlate, it is funny to think of all those things they do. Maybe I'll start having Marina shrug a bit more...

Carol, it was a bit of a shock though!

Chris, OH NO! Do you KNOW how many times my MC has a cup of tea?

Lane, it makes me laugh too. I can't believe I confessed it.

Amanda said...

Hee hee, JJ - what a great post - has made me think! :-)
I love dialogue too!

HelenMHunt said...

I really need to do some kind of time line for my novel. I'm sure I've got my MC working on days when she's not meant to be and all sorts of weird things.

I know it'll all unpick in the edit though.

Angie said...

Great post, JJ. I enjoy dialogue too.
In my first draft, the characters nodded and sighed so much I was afraid they might get a neck crick and pass out! Glad it was for my eyes only.
You're making great progress. Keep on keeping on! xx

SpiralSkies said...

It's really quite amazing that you've picked up on something like this so early on in the drafting process. I don't think I'll ever recover from discovering I had characters called Kittie and Kat and I'd nearly finished the rotten thing!ausage

Calistro said...

I'd forgotten we had that conversation! But yes, that's exactly how novel 1 read before I started editing it! There are still some chapters that start "I woke up" so don't prod me with the naughty stick when you find them! ;)