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The more you write, the better it gets
May 16, 2010 |
For years I have cleaned the barn on Saturday nights while tuned in to A Prairie Home Companion. My horse also listens and the barn gets calm the moment the show starts. The show has gotten me through some tough times, alone out there on cold nights cleaning that barn, thinking.
My question is about writing.
I have been a state trooper and detective for 20 years and have kept a record of sorts, jotting down things along the way. Real incidents, moments of passion, humanity, fear and sadness all in one.
How to get started?
West Cornwall, CT
Look through your notes, Paula, and find an incident that confuses you, something mysterious, maybe embarrassing, maybe horrifying, and start with that. Write those notes on big blank sheets of paper, leaving plenty of space between the lines sextuple spaced and fill out the white space with more notes. The more you recall, the more you will remember. Write it all down. Don't bother too much with organization, just jot down details.
While you do that, on a separate sheet of paper write the name Paula Cornwall. She is a horsewoman, a state trooper, a detective, and she is cleaning the barn on a cold night and listening to a man on the radio talk about kind hearts and gentle people and suddenly the phone rings and thirty seconds later she is in her car, racing to the scene, and she is right in the midst of serious trouble. She is you, except she is maybe a little darker, maybe she has some secrets, maybe she's funnier, maybe taller, more glamorous, richer be playful here and then let her get to work solving the problem. She will solve it, but only barely.
Write this novel for your own amusement. Keep surprising yourself. Keep rewriting. Read it out loud to yourself and go back and rewrite some more. Focus on dialogue. Make it real. The more you write and the better it gets, the more energy you will get from it the last stages of rewriting will be the easiest, the most fun.
That's what I think you should do. Start whenever you feel like it. One morning you'll wake up and know that this is the day and off you'll go. Good luck.