Why Didn’t Somebody Tell Me This at Beginning?

Man Using Laptop

Back in November, James Scott Bell posted a blog on The Kill Zone called, What I Wish I’d Known When I Started Writing. He covered a whole range of topics and sparked my own thinking.

Now, I wonder why didn’t somebody tell me this at the beginning? I’m just going to focus on a couple of areas in this blog. Otherwise, I’d be writing a book.

Write Every Day

First is the idea of writing every day. Mr. Bell refines this idea by advising setting a weekly quota and dividing that by the number of days we’ll write. Actually, we need to determine how many days we’re going to write.

In the beginning, I was ambitious and determined to write every single day. I’ve since learned that this isn’t practical. We need to set a Sabbath for our spiritual, physical and mental needs. God declared a day of rest because he knows we need it. I’m not about to argue with God. Been there. Done that.

Now, my goal now is write 500 words a day Monday through Friday. Saturday is set aside for editing my work.

A vital part of this is a self-assessment: How can I organize my day to have writing time? I’ve shared earlier how for me this meant getting up earlier. Others may be able to make time by different adjustments such as limiting television watching or social media time.

If we have a family, we need to involve them in this process as well. We have commitments to them that need to take priority over our writing. Communication and agreement is vital in this area. How can we as a family cooperate to achieve my goals as a writer and their goals and needs? Talk it out. And revisit it frequently to ensure we’re still on the same page.

Whatever we do, we should periodically re-assess it. At least annually. Is it still working? Am I meeting my daily and weekly goals? Are there changes I can make to be more efficient? Have family and life changes revealed areas where we need to adjust? Part of this re-assessment is taking time with God seeking his direction and plan for us. Are we still doing what he called us to do? Are we in a season of change where he is redirecting us?

Make Your Villain Human

Write from the viewpoint where your villain doesn’t see himself as a villain. Someone once said, “A bad guy is like any other guy. He’s just trying to make it through the day.” I’ve lost the citation for this quote, but it speaks to making our villains human and not clichés or stereotypes.

In his Snowflake method, Randy Ingermanson recommends writing a brief synopsis of our story in each main character’s point of view, including the villain. The villain sees himself as the hero of his own story.

Bell suggests we write how the villain would make his closing argument. How would he defend himself? This doesn’t need to be in the novel, but it will provide us with insights into the villain’s character. Insights we can use to make him more human. In my first novel, Journey to Riverbend, my villain was driven by the desire to exact revenge from the man she believed ruined her father. She wanted justice but decided to work outside the system to get it.

What tips can you share about writing every day and making your villains more human?

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