Monday, September 26, 2011

Start here, "moodling" a story along

Starting a new story, with only a seed or two for that story, seems very dicey to me. Perhaps I expect too much too soon. Perhaps, as Jane said, I resist for a while because I know how hard it will be. But eventually the story demands that I pull up my socks, sit down at my chair and write.

Today's guest Dian Curtis Regan has published more than fifty books for young readers. She's written those books in Texas, Oklahoma, Venezuela, Kansas, and Colorado. So clearly, place does not effect Dian's ability to start a project. Here's what she says about starting a book:

For me, it begins with the seed of an idea or, in the case of The World According to Kaley, a slip-of-the-tongue comment. I spend a lot of time staring out windows and moodling and jotting notes. Eventually, the opening line comes to me. At that point, I know it's a 'go.'

The ritual part: going off to Office Max and buying a binder to fill as I print out drafts, and to keep my notes and comments from reader friends. The big decisions: what color binder will suit this story? Will the story be a picture book--which requires a 1/2 inch binder? A chapter book: 1 inch. Or a YA novel: 2 inch? The buying of the binder makes it all official: I am writing a new book.

Here is Dian's current line up of binders.

For me, the scariest part has always been that nagging seed of doubt that can quickly grow into a thorny mean-spirited flower whose nasty smell fills my writing place.

Whatever we can do to keep that seed, that smell of doubt away--a new notebook, a carefully nourished excitement over the stories we want to tell, a resolute shutting the door on doubt-- is what we have to do, and then get down to business.

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