Word for Word: A novel attempt

Word for Word

By Jay Maxwell:

You might think of writing as an impossible feat consisting of tedious research and cold-hearted fact recitation. Writing, in any form, is sometimes dull, and professional writing for work or school is especially difficult. It can be hard to figure out what to say, or you may know exactly what you want to say but not how to say it clearly. Enter the world of fiction-writing: you can say things without having to sound professional or word it just right. You don’t have to do research or cite statistics. You don’t even have to write about real-world possibilities. The world and people in it are yours to shape however, allowing you to free your imagination and explore endless possibilities. I have personally experienced the euphoria of freeing my imagination, while also conquering my fear of writing failure, through novel-writing.

This summer, I started writing a novel that I had hatched ideas for over the previous year. I had attempted to write stories before, but I ended up lost soon after beginning, unsure where the story should go. Eventually, the characters and scene lost their glamour, I stopped writing, and the stories fell to the rubbage heap of failure. I felt I didn’t know how to create anything I could see through. Yet, I still wanted to write something great that would have a profound message and make me famous and rich one day. So, I started writing a story last summer. A story I was determined to finish. This time, I tried crafting a meaningful end first instead of starting with the dramatic beginning. I wrote up a plan, including key details on characters, plot-line, and ending scenes. I made sure I knew exactly what to do before I started in on the actual story-writing.

I am now working on the fifth chapter of my book without tiring, and I’ve learned some interesting lessons from this endeavor. While writing, I’ve noticed that planning scenes while keeping character information consistent is much easier because of the plot outlines I wrote ahead. I also found that constructing the end of the story before the beginning gives me a chance to continuously progress because I know where the story is going. Of course, I still have a lot to write, but fiction writing is more entertaining than non-fiction and I now know how to prevent losing interest, so my book promises to reach completion. The most important lesson I learned from this writing experience is that I am not a failure at writing fiction. I can write a good book; I just need to plan ahead and then keep plugging away at the job. Who knows, maybe I’ll be the next New York Times best-selling author.

This column about writing and the writing process is created by the Amarillo College Writers’ Corner tutors. The name “Word for Word” pays tribute to Robert W. Wylie (1923-2011), who worked at Amarillo College from 1963 until 1992.  He was chairman of the English Department from 1984 to 1992, served as Writer-in-Residence at AC for several years after his retirement and wrote a weekly column for the Amarillo Globe-News called “Word for Word” from 1992 through 2003.

The Writers’ Corner provides free tutors who review assignment requirements, provide constructive feedback, and guide students through all phases of the writing process.

The Writer’s Corner also offers:

  *   One-on-one tutoring sessions with trained tutors
  *   Small workshops throughout the semester covering various aspects of academic writing
  *   In-class presentations on the role of the Writers’ Corner
  *   A waiting area for walk-ins and early arrivals
  *   Coffee for students with appointments

The Writers’ Corner is located in Ordway Hall, Room 104 and can be reached at writerscorner@actx.edu or (806) 345-5580. Learn more at https://www.actx.edu/english/writerscorner.

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