As a human being I consider myself to be patient. I have even often thought my patience more of an encumbrance, especially in instances when I wish I could have reacted in the moment, right in that moment, when something was said or done that I didn’t necessarily approve of.
To contrast this statement I will now admit that I am not a patient writer.
Learning to write in screenplay format has not exactly helped with this, but rather it’s enhanced it. Why take two pages to say something that could easily be conveyed with one well-phrased paragraph? Why not allow for the characters’ pattern of movement to reveal their personalities and emotional state, rather than pushing line after line describing their innermost thoughts? Is this not too on-the-nose, too obvious and, frankly, too boring?
Of course it isn’t.
Prose should be a flowing mass of insights that I, somewhere during the process of learning how to write short and to-the-point, simply forgot how to embrace. But the time for hugging it up is now. Why? I have begun to write my first novel.
I am four frustrating chapters into a story that I have carried around within my head and heart for over a decade. As I sit and write I feel how I truly want to know the world and the characters fully, I want to share their fears and hopes and I want, more than anything else, to convey these fears and hopes, trials and triumphs in a way that will make a stranger who is introduced to them feel the same want to explore and engage as I do. What frustrates me is that I know in my heart of hearts that my language is not cutting it as it is right now, it is not painting a full and vibrant picture and this is simply because I am too impatient for it to.
Screenwriting has taught me things about writing that I wasn’t fully aware of before. As a teenager I would write because I loved it. I would write without further thought, purely from inspiration and whatever the end result was I accepted that it was where the story had seen fit to end up. To some extent I still write that way because writing from inspiration is the fun part about writing anything, but screenwriting has given me the benefit of keeping in mind how everything in a story should be there with a purpose and should act as building blocks for what the story will evolve into.
Paragraphs in prose act very much like the different parts of a screenplay and can be used to describe environment, character, plot or – at its most beautiful – a combination of two or more: when the environment mirrors the mindset of the character in it or when the choices of a character actively affect the plot is when a story transcends and has the possibility to be the most true to reality, the most believably human.
So what is my conclusion of my inability to hurry slowly when it comes to my writing of these first four chapters?
That I must have patience with my impatience. That I must allow myself to get this initial version out, although it’s most likely askew and unsteady, in order to get a proper look at the world and the characters inhabiting it. I know them, but I don’t really know them. They will most probably surprise me in the end. And even if I know where I’m going with them, where I want them to end up, all the crossroads we will face together before getting there and all the choices that will have to be made are still unknown. I may have a gut feeling, but I also understand that a lot may come to change, especially in the character of the characters themselves and how they relate to one another. But this is what makes the entire journey so exciting and the process itself so rewarding.
Thus I have decided not to get all worked up over these relatively short first chapters and the, to my mind, lacking of depth in the language, because the more profound my understanding of the world and characters becomes, all the more simple it will be to add observations during the editing process that I don’t have access to at this first stage. That red bow on page thirty may not seem very important now, and quite possibly won’t seem very important until I reread the finished draft and realize that I can utilize it as a symbol for the bond between the destinies of my two heroines. Perhaps. I don’t know. There isn’t even a red bow in there. Perhaps one should be added.