After a week and a bit I’m up to 6,000 words (thereabouts). This is a first draft, so they are not all perfect and many will find their way into the cyber-bin when I come back to edit.
At the moment I am resisting the urge to edit-as-you-go, which is the writer’s equivalent of running very fast on a treadmill and wondering why you’re not going anywhere. Each time I come back to the manuscript I limit my reading to the last paragraph.
That is why developing a habit of writing every day is so important. You don’t have to read the entire last chapter because you can actually remember what you wrote the day before. Leave the thing for a week or two and every time you’ll have to go back over your work to pick up the thread.
Characters, you gotta love them. They have a way of doing and saying things that are totally unexpected. I’m writing this piece in the first person. The main character is a middle-aged man with an unusual occupation and a big heart. He drives a ute, drinks beer by the slab, and extends kindnesses to a harem of lonely women in the town. Out of the blue I’ve given him a French name, even though his mannerisms are pure Aussie. Somehow this helps me visualise the romantic person he is on the inside.
Later on he will be linked to a murder he didn’t do. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Each time he opens his mouth it’s like listening to a friend and I’m trying to write in his voice. What he says sometimes shocks me and sometimes makes me smile. Through him I’m learning about the love of his life, which he’s never admitted to anyone, least of all himself.
Tim Winton is a master at capturing voice. His collection of short stories, ‘The Turning’, is set in a fictitious town in coastal Western Australia. Each story is told by a different character in a unique voice. Makes wonderful and varied reading, and gives a budding writer great inspiration.