The other day, I tried something that helped me a lot with my writing. It was a result of me wondering how one can manage to write 100,000 words of beautiful sentences and paragraphs. Now, most books will have a handful of paragraphs within chapters that I really like, which is more than enough. What makes me like them is:
(1) The elegance of the writing. I love it when words come together to form a beautiful sentence. Some people may not understand that. My husband often talks about 'beautiful' or 'pretty' equations which is often lost on me.
(2) It fits into the storyline. There's no need in putting a beautiful paragraph into a story when it doesn't fit. It's better to save it somewhere, and maybe build a story around it.
(3) It makes me see and feel the character or the scenery it describes. Nothing beats the blooming images in your mind when a story comes to life. It is much like having your very own portable cinema.
I understand that writing one beautiful paragraph is doable, but it always baffled me how someone can keep the same quality even a hundred pages down the line. Everyone has their own way of writing, and the way I write is chapter by chapter. I am very fussy when it comes to writing (which others may think spreads to other parts of my life), and can only continue with the next chapter once I have edited the previous ones about a dozen times. For some reason, a little voice inside my head continuously tells me a story is not worth telling unless I am 90% happy with what I have written. I simply get a writer's block if they aren't up to par. When I do get them right, the little voice tells me, 'Well done, you can move on now!', and lifts the iron curtain that had stopped me from going any further. This is a time consuming thing, simply because sometimes, I am simply not in the mood to write one particular chapter.
So the other day, when this happened again, I decided to experiment. Instead of working on that chapter for the tenth time and banging my head against a brick wall in the process, I started writing things down randomly. I would write a sentence a character may say, or maybe, a dialogue. Or even an entire scene. The result: they fell into the category of 'beautiful'. I realised that because I wrote them without the pressure of them turning into a chapter, I could write more freely and the words just came out flowing. I now have a file that is filled with beautiful, but fragmented paragraphs that may not form a chapter yet, but may do so one day.
In there, I have also stored a scene I wrote that will be slotted in somewhere in the middle of the book. Had I written the way I usually write, I may never have come up with it, simply because I may not have been 'in the mood' by the time I came to that chapter. This scene now happens to be my husband's favourite, and he said he could have read more if it actually went on further... simply because in that moment, he felt as if he was right there with the characters. He was appalled at that thought, as he knows the story itself is more appealing to girls than boys. The thing is, whilst I was writing that scene, I did feel the wet grass beneath my feet, heard the stillness of the night, saw the starry night sky up above and the dark forest ahead, beckoning me to enter. I was not sitting in my living room facing a busy street in Oxfordshire where the traffic never stops. Just like the people of ancient times who carved graffiti on the wall or those bored people who write messages on a lavatory door, I could have walked towards a tree in that scene, and etched on its bark that most famous line of all: "I WAS HERE".
So the lesson I have learned from this little experiment is that whenever I get stuck with a chapter, I write something else. Something little. A sentence, a paragraph or a scene. Something that will take the pressure off me. Or maybe, I'll write something that matches my mood of that day to a particular moment in the story. I realised that works wonders. Who knows, maybe one day it will become an entire chapter or even an entire book - filled with words that combine into a beautiful heap, that is.