Writing a novel is a bit like walking multiple unruly dogs. If you don’t watch out plot threads get out of control, tangled up and even completely off center much the way dogs can circle your legs with their leashes and bowl you over.
Step one to successful dog walking is to do your homework. Teach the dogs to sit, stay, heel. Take each dog for a one-on-one walk and teach him to walk by your side. Successful writing requires the same discipline. As a writer, we must take the time to research. There’s nothing worse than a story filled with inaccuracies and myths. Invest creativity in building your world. Be it a language or three, an alien world or culture, to achieve believability you must do the work.
Step two to successful dog walking is to assign walking positions of each dog. You don’t want to pair two nervous dogs on a leash – too much drama. Best to put your steadiest, most experienced walker with the novice. Same thing with your plotting. You don’t want one Scene to follow another. Sequel is essential to keeping your reader involved, plus it gives the reader time to digest the action and drama that occurred in the preceding Scene. On our next walk, I’m pairing Roxie with Cocoa Puff. Roxie is my steadiest walker. She never leaves my side and rarely makes a misstep.
Step three to successful dog walking is to walk assertively. Once you have the pack walking in the forward direction, just keep walking. It is suggested that you plan for a rest stop, but be prepared that this will knock your dogs off track as you will have to start over, reorganize the dogs, and struggle to regain your momentum. How many times have I gotten frustrated with my work in progress and put it down for a “break”? And how hard was it for me to get back my momentum? As a writer, you should beware the pit stop. Bestselling author Lori Foster says that she tries to write her first draft as quickly as possible so she can get to the part she most enjoys: editing. Editing is no favorite of mine, but I know that if you have momentum then it’s best to keep moving forward.
Dog walking can be fun for the walker and the dogs. It can also be frustrating, and trying – the same as writing. How do you keep your writing on track? What homework do you do to make your manuscripts complete? What works for you?