First Love and the First Pages


Since I write romance, guess it’s not much surprise that I have love on the brain. But I was thinking today, especially as I look back at an older work, about the flush of first love we feel in the early pages of a new book.

I’m in love with my new story. Probably partially because I’m only about 12k in. It’s usually like that.

The first 20k are marvelous. First there’s the charming and those early “dates” between the writer, the freshness of the ideas, the characters, the rosy possibility of unexplored words. Ah! What a marvelous character who’s eager to tell you everything. Oh! The mighty possibilities of where the story might go, where it will take the writer before it ever has a chance to transport a reader.

By about 30k, you’ve started to settle into a steady routine of dates. The writer and the story are getting to know each other. And yes, they may still be in love, but, well, things aren’t perfect. Who is? There’s those plot holes back in chapter 5, and the revision notes written before the book is even complete. But, hey, it’s still fun. It’s still good.

By midway and around the 50k mark, things have settled into a bit of a rut. Is this the one? Or was it just a clever trickster out to seduce and leave you, like a horrible one-night stand? Does the writer have any talent? Does the story have any worth? The story might hit the rocks here, along with the relationship between writer and story, and “I hate you” might be slung around ruthlessly. Around about this mark, as the rut starts to wear on both story and writer is usually when a bright sexy young story spark comes to mind, seductive and tempting as this story once was, before that paunch around the middle. But, if you’ve made it this far, stuck together so long, there must be something worthwhile, and besides, the promise of ’til “the end” do we part is still a promise worth keeping.

The 80k mark. Yes, everything up to this point may suck, probably does. But that’s okay. You’ve reached 80k! You’re almost there. And suddenly … wait! What is that … just ahead … it’s the glimmer of light at the end, and you’re going to make it, and everything will get better, and the story is worth it, and maybe this will turn into the best thing you’ve ever written! And yes, for me, it’s a swift sprint to the end (100K) as I see where everything is coming together, and how it’s all worked out for the best. The story is a glorious, beautiful thing, warts and all. Because, hey, rewrites are to get rid of those warts, right?

Ah, the first draft is done. And you’ve accomplished something … until you open up those first pages, and good gracious! What the heck is that? Okay, so it’s uglier than you thought, but this baby is worth the effort of getting the rewrites done. The first 20k are especially awful, but they can be fixed. And then comes the next draft. And possibly another one after that. Then a good spit and polish, and voila! Done. It is a beautiful thing. And yet, it is also somehow apart from the writer, the sheer madness of the push to finish each draft like a distant memory. Because when it’s done, when the story and the writer have completed their journey, their time together is over.

It’s time to give the story the boot. Because what is that just around the corner? Hello, it’s that seductive new story, just waiting for the writer to lay hands to the keyboard … and start the whole cycle of madness all over again.

I’ve just his 12k on new baby story. Oh, but ain’t love grand? Surely I’ve never written anything better. 😉 (Just don’t ask me in another 20k or so.)

What about you? Ever had a very unusual “relationship” with something so ephemeral as a story?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. 🙂