My Pilot is on Standby

Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.  - Nancy Ann Dibble

Make everybody fall out of the plane first.  This, my readers, is exactly what I'm having a hard time doing.  I never thought the beginning would be the most difficult part. I know the story, I know what happens, I know how things are resolved.  But the plane - well my plane can't even get off the ground.  Forget about people boarding it.  The pilot isn't even remotely nearby... he's off taking a nap somewhere, or eating his lunch, or whatever it is pilots do while they're waiting for takeoff. 

I try to put myself there - at the scene - as an innocent bystander looking in at the situation.  I can see what is happening, feel what Hallie feels... but the words... they elude me.  They're just not good enough.

Is it writer's block?  I'm thinking not.  I know what needs to be said.  I know how I should say it.  I just can't... say it as well as I should. 


L. Diane Wolfe said...

The very first page or so always trip me up as well. I know how it begins, more or less, but exactly how the VERY beginning occurs is another matter.

Jm Diaz said...

Best advice I ever received: Just start it, with whatever. You can always, and probably will, go back and change your first page. Start with somebody walking up in a burst of awareness, or running toward the elevator, or taking a morning jog, etc... Just something to get you going.

Best of luck.

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

L. Diane Wolf - that's me! Exactly!

Jm Diaz -
I've redone the beginning at least a dozen times. *head desk* Thanks for the luck! *stuffs in bottle to use at next editing session*

Susie Talbot said...

Freewrite and then freewrite some more ---write every single thing you can think of about "Hallie" and then when you have a mess of words on the page, you have substance, a tangible something that can then be manipulated, sculpted, squeezed into shape, which I think is the fun part! Go for it!!!! Yah Jessica!

John Ettorre said...

Keep at it Jessica. It'll come. But maybe it's time to get an opinion from a trusted friend/reader? That sometimes helps us get unstuck, since most writers are their own harshest critics.

BK Mattingly said...

I always have problems with my beginnings too. *sigh* If I'm ever really stuck...I pop popcorn and sprinkle pixie sticks on it. It sounds gross but it's fantastic and it takes me out of my funk. Feel free to try that :) Good luck!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Thanks for the support guys!

Susie, I'm going to try that on paper and not on the computer screen - that's half the problem - a blank area on the screen stresses me out;)

Bethany, interesting idea. I just might try that sometime. Question - is that with buttered, or plain? LOL

John, I have asked one person, and he told me it wasn't dramatic enough. Meaning people were just walking around on the plane, having casual conversation. And he was right. Which is why I'm trying to rewrite it again!

Jessica R. said...

Try a different angle. Visualize yourself sitting with Hallie at a coffee shop and have her "tell" you what she saw.
Maybe part of the problem is that she's not seeing it well enough to tell you and you need to work through it with her.

(I take my characters shopping when I can't get a good enough feel for them. This seems like a different way to get a feel for a scene in a less stressful situation.)

John Ettorre said...

Should have figured that you're already on it, Jessica.

Anita said...

The thoughts of a non-novelist here, but:
Can you go to a location that is related to your story line, and sit or stand there to absorb the surroundings, imagine...wait for a vision or group of words to come into your head?
Have your mini-tape recorder in your pocket waiting for the words?
A little field trip - I think actors call it "getting into character."
Maybe you already do this.
Either way, it'll come. :)

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Anita - I can go to something somewhat like that - which is a great idea because you can only remember so much, but being there - the sounds, ect. would really help me!

You guys are all awesome, I really appreciate these ideas!

Joanne said...

Sounds like your ideas are brewing ... When I'm unsure like this, I often try coming at the scene from a completed unexpected angle, just make yourself look at it a way you never considered. Often the scene opens up in new ways then. Best wishes!

Susie Talbot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susie Talbot said...

What great ideas listed here! I think I'll borrow a few of them. I love the idea of taking the character shopping or out to coffee! ha! Jessica, I always do free-writing pencil to paper rather than on the computer. I find the feel of the pencil in my hand, and watching the graphite mark the paper therapeutic, relaxing and best of all it primes the pump.

Cassandra Frear said...

My policy here: good things come to those who wait. Walk away and let your mind drift. Clip pictures that remind you of scenes from the story. Let your brain play. It will come to you.

But hey, what do I know?

Just might work, though.

jdsanc said...

Read. Slip into words that aren't yours until yours come back. Maybe it will be only one at a time. I mean, literally. But they will come back. And then enjoy them because they will leave again. Fun stuff this writing roller coaster.

Great blog!

Juliana said...

Sweetie-just write it...just let the words flow. You can always say it as a draft. I am a new follower and am going to come back to see what you have pressure ha ha. I hope tha tyou will follow back as well-
Juliana from a Blonde Walks Into A Blog