It doesn’t hurt to be flexible.
Example: I knew the handwriting was on the wall today. After work I was going to end up being Mr. Concrete, mixing and patching the rest of the holes in the floor of the barn where my daughter’s goats will live. I knew I would be dead tired after that, but I wanted to get some writing in. It’s a little too easy to play guitar and call it good, and I have a book to finish.
So I wrote six pages at work during lunch hour.
It worked out quite well, actually. I was at the beginning of a chapter, I knew what the opening line of the chapter was, and where things were to go. It also helped that I envisioned this chapter as largely a dialogue between the protagonist and a person who has information that he refuses to divulge. I want it to be a who-is-going-to-crack-first kind of thing, and for the kind of psychological maneuvering that goes on between the two, I think doing it largely as dialogue will be quite effective.
The fact that I got six pages done in an hour is because dialogue is one of my three writing strengths. I think I have an ear for dialogue, and when I write it, I can work quickly – perhaps even faster than when I write action scenes. When I started writing long projects in high school, they were plays, and I think that playwright’s ear for dialog has stayed with me.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t always think my dialogue was a strength. When I turned in ADOH, I was worried about some sections because they consisted largely of dialogue, and I wasn’t sure that I was supposed to be doing that. My very first fan letter ever showed me that what I had was actually a strength.
My first fan letter ever came from David Mattingly, the artist who would end up doing the covers for my five Del Rey books. He liked ADOH so much that he was moved to send me a letter before the book even came out. One of the things he said was, “and I really liked the way you handed over the plot to long stretches of dialogue.”
So I quit worrying about it, and it has served me well ever since.
I guess that means there are two lessons for tonight. First, be resourceful when it comes to seeking out writing time. Second, don’t sell yourself short. What you think is a weakness could be a strength.
Page: 231 (+6)
Words: 54412 (+1510)
NP – Peter Gabriel, Up