Friday, May 21, 2010

How to Write a Book in 10 Days – Truck Stops

Hey welcome to day 2 of my odyssey on how to write a book in 10 days. For my non-U.S. audience, a truck stop is a refueling station typically found on the highways and byways of U.S. roads which also double as restaurants and souvenir shops. They are dubbed this because they cropped up to serve truck drivers who criss cross the United States, hauling goods from state to another.

Anyway, let's take a look at day one. How did I do? The day started off pretty well, I got the outline of the first chapter established, answered my four big questions and then had to dive into the work day. The one drawback of a writer's life is that not all writers get to do it full time. In fact, we often juggle one or more full time occupations that we must "write" around. But with the outline bubbling on a simmer in the back of my brain, I worked hard to get all the other stuff out of the way, then dove into the first chapter sometime after the Bones season finale but before I watched Fringe.

Result, 2,650 words for the first chapter.

I will probably keep about 2200 of them.

Day Two – Truck Stop

So let's kick off day two, how do we do that? First, not oversleeping would be a good plan. I did that today, however! My daughter woke me up at 5:30 asking me why I hadn't gotten up at my usual 4 a.m. I had no real good answer for that. So I swung into a truck stop a little early on my trip, I had a few more miles (words) to go before I really needed a break, but sometimes you just need to get out of that car and stretch.

Since I overslept, I got up; got my coffee and my laptop and now I'm mapping out today's route while I stand in the middle of my kitchen. My daughter is chattering happily because today is her last day of school. I'll be going to an end of the year awards assembly with the laptop in my car so that I can pull it out and write around the events surrounding Field Day.

Today, my characters are rolling full steam into chapter two. I have my four questions to answer: What is the goal of this chapter? What is her agenda? What is his agenda? How do the two collide, conflict and conflagrate?

Tip to Keep It Moving Forward

I learned recently that I am too in love with words. So how do I move it forward without getting too caught up in the froth and minutiae (pronounced me-new-sha, I do love that word)?

Today's chapter will be dialogue only. I'm not going to write what they are doing or how they are saying it. I am just going to let them talk, banter, volley, serve and bat words back at each other. I am literally going to let them tell me what they are saying.

Once I have those visions in my head, tonight, I will go back and add dialogue tags and cues, setting and description and of course, visceral reactions. Sometimes, it's easier to hear the characters if I shut off all the other senses and just listen to them.

Congratulations to commentator Katie from yesterday, your name will appear in this chapter! So how are you doing? What about dialogue really turns you on in a book? What are your favorite parts? What are your least favorite parts? What metaphor or line makes you laugh? Today, a lucky commentator with an amusing line may find that bit of dialogue added to the scene. Give me a challenge, I love those!


  1. I love the idea of just writing dialogue and then later going in and filling around it. Very interesting idea!

  2. I know a lot of people who say dialogue is harder and I know even more people who say that dialogue tags and scene building are harder. When you just let the characters say the word, you can actually build the images in your head and sometimes -- the scene setting around them can be completely different from the conversation which gives it a texture. So we'll see how it goes!

  3. I occasionally write just dialog. It helps me know who's POV the scene should be in, who has the most at stake and if I've overlooked something the characters are trying to tell me.