Don’t sweat the small stuff now. Just write. I had lunch this week with a colleague who is interested in writing fiction. During our chat, she had all kinds of questions:
- How do you know, when you’re writing dialogue, when to say “she said” or when not to say “she said”? What if the reader doesn’t know who is talking?
- How do you know, if you’re writing YA, that your voice sounds really like a young adult?
- How can I have my main character have a younger brother when I don’t know what it’s like to have a younger brother?
I found that most of my answers to her questions was this: Don’t worry about that now. Just start writing.
Sometimes new writers get caught up in all these worries. Me included. I’m reminded of an incident I discuss in Writing Tip #83 when I was in grad school and I was so worried about getting the police investigation right in Baby Grand that I became totally blocked and couldn’t write the first chapter introducing Detective Sergeant Mark Nurberg, one of my main characters. It was my professor’s waving me off with a nonchalant (irritated?) “just write it,” like she was waving away a mosquito, that pushed me to go home and, as she suggested, just plunge in and do it.
What separates the writers from the non-writers is that writers push those worries aside and “just write” and see what happens. What comes out might suck. It might not. But it might. The thing is, you won’t know until you try — as trite as that sounds. And, anyway, if it sucks, that’s what editing is for.
So if there’s a scene that is giving you trouble or that you’ve been avoiding, my advice is to — right now — open that Word document and start typing. Write a paragraph. Or a page. Just write. I have a hunch that, when you’re done, however good or bad you think that writing is, you’ll be glad you did.