Lab Book for a Novel: Day 1

Today has been a long day. I was up at 4:30 am and caught an early flight to Los Angeles. I then spent my afternoon working, checked into my hotel, and had an early dinner with an eye toward getting to bed early.

After dinner, however, I took advantage of the large balcony my hotel room has, with a few that overlooks the Pacific Ocean a few blocks south. I sat on one of the recliners with my laptop on my lap, and wrote the first words of the new novel.

Santa Monica, CA: A nice place to start the novel.
Santa Monica, CA: A nice place to start the novel.

I wrote the first complete scene of the novel, which came in at a little over 850 words. Getting started is always a little tough for me. With respect to this story, I have a couple of challenges:

  • I’m never comfortable until I find the right voice. Many of my stories are first person and it is much easier for me to find a voice when writing first person. However, this story is not first person.
  • While I initially thought the story could be told in first person, I’ve come to think that the storyline is complicated enough to warrant a third person telling. This could change in the second draft. But for now, I am following Jack Reacher’s example: Never Go Back.

Before dozing off to sleep last night, I jotted down 4 things that I wanted to get through in the first part of the story. It’s possible that these four things (two or three words each) represent the first four chapters of the story. It’s possible they are the first four scenes. What matter for now is that my headlight is bright enough at the moment for me to see what amounts to four moves ahead. I’ll worry about what comes next as I learn more about these characters and their stories.

I am interested in how this all evolves, so when I finish for the day, I’m putting the date (in square brackets) at the end of the last thing I wrote for the day. That gives me a little bit of history on the evolution of the first draft.

So, despite being tired, I feel good about this initial session. And it was nice to get in more than the quota for the day. I can build up a little savings for those days when I just can’t find the time to get in the full word count.

Me after my first day on the new novel
Me, after my first day on the new novel.