There is safety in the blank page.
A blank page represents limitless potential, an imagined future that leaps into life with a single word.
But which word to begin with?
Some words convey the desired tone right off the bat. A story beginning with Once suggests the disarming familiarity of myths and fairy tales.
A simple “I” throws readers deep into the protagonist’s psyche before any other word is spoken as readers prepare themselves to know someone else more intimately than anyone else.
Descriptive words like, Darkness, Glorious, or Freezing immediately lend themselves to mood and tone. The first word of a story may determine whether or not the lights are needed to keep the shadows at bay once the cover of the book is closed.
Then comes the tumult that follows, the orchestration of letters that take readers to soaring heights and trudging lows before, inevitably, coming to a resolution that makes us ache for more.
The process of wrangling words into character arcs, story plots, subtext, and resonance can’t begin without the magic inherent in the blank page.
A beginning that awaits words is not something to be feared, for beyond the veil of words lies landscapes begging for discovery and intertwined lives to be explored.
I love the promise of a new project, a story originating from a glimmer of an idea, a first line, or a single question loaded with divergent answers. Storytelling in blogging is no less exciting and rewarding.
The initiation of a new manuscript, a new chapter, or a new tale, can be daunting, as I push around words like the proverbial clay of creation beneath my fingers. When sculpting, Michaelangelo said he freed the statue trapped within the stone. Using the skills he refined, he worked outwards from the interior.
I remind myself to see beyond the harsh glare of a blank page into the quiet moments that endear characters to readers, or into the array of monsters make us cheer for our hero.
A blank page is potential, and that potential is both thrilling and terrifying but only once I put down the first words.
Thus the blank page becomes a safety blanket, a pristine thing that is not besmeared with words that can be, nay, must be muscled into digestible sentences and original thoughts in order to convey satisfying themes. Why let the intimidated part of me put off the hard work until a day when the sun shines and the world stops moving?
Push on, I say, into the irksome twists and turns of plotting, and pantsering, of editing, and rewrites. Let not the worry of “How do I start?” overshadow the course of “How does my hero win?”
There are plenty of resources that give practical ideas about how to move past a blank page. These are the techniques that open the door to an adventure writers already have planned in their heads, whether or not they know it.
Fear not the foray. Unleash the statues.
Dirty that page with words, dammit.