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Posts tagged “Writing process

To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.

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Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post up on her blog, The Creative Penn. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence. You can find the link here: The Creative Penn

Anne R Allen has an interesting post on her blog. 12 Myths about being a Writer. You can find it here: Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Lastly, Steven Lewis has this post up on his blog, Taleist, Do you have the storyteller’s intelligence? Here’s the link: Taleist

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Quote of the Day

“Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant—you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.”
― Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny

Image via Wikipedia


So…You’re a Writer??

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: secretagent007)

“So, you’re a writer?” An old friend of mine asked me this question recently. My immediate and unthinking response was, “Unpublished.” I said it like it was some sort of apology. To whom I was apologizing, I will never know. Maybe myself.

What on earth possess’ writers to say that?

Scrutiny.

There is no need to justify the reason we write. Yet, somehow we feel compelled to do so.

So we explain, or try to explain, what we are writing, what our plans are. Or we simply don’t discuss it all. We keep it to ourselves, hidden from our family and our peers. It’s much easier that way–if we fail, no one will ever know.

I’ve seen the sideways glance, the cinched eyebrows, looks of confusion, the blank stare. Get enough of those looks and it will either drive you to push harder, and PROVE THEM WRONG–or it will drive you to shut your mouth.

First, don’t push harder to prove someone wrong. If people aren’t supportive, it’s their issue, not yours. Push harder because YOU are working toward your goals. Second, writers don’t shut their mouths. The inner workings of our minds are constantly talking, constantly creating, and constantly thinking. Don’t hide what makes you different–bask in it.

If we don’t see ourselves as writers–no one will. We have to take ourselves seriously if we expect anyone else to. And part of that is working on our craft. Everyday. The other part– acknowledging not only to yourself, but to everyone else, that yes, you are a writer.

You chose this path. It’s time to walk it.


Inspiration of the day:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

~Albert Einstein


When writing takes hold…

This has been the most productive writing week I’ve had in months. Literally.  Harnessing a writing streak however, can be an impossible task, so when it strikes, run with it.  Here are some repercussions of what I call ‘writers hold.’

1. You have consumed more coffee or hot tea than your body weight.

2. Pajamas become proper work attire.

3. Your laptop has attached itself to your hand.

4. You wake up at three in the morning because your unconscious mind just unlocked the key to Chapter Ten!

5. You realize the dishes haven’t been done in days and you haven’t left the house in over 24 hours.

6. You start talking to yourself. Out loud.

7. You are in pain from the neck down.

8. You have amassed over one hundred unchecked emails and you don’t care.

9. Your blog posts become increasingly random and more sporadic.

10. You have no idea that your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, child, roommate is talking to you.

11. You don’t know todays date.

12. And you are thankful as hell for all of these things because they spell…PRODUCTIVITY.


My Music Mondays

Here on the blog I am dedicating monday as Music Day. I will post my current playlist or songs that I feel are particularly good this week (or just the songs I’m writing/listening to). Although I love new music and try to stay current, I also love the old stuff and will be posting that as well. Thanks for listening.

PHANTOGRAM: Don’t Move

WASHED OUT: Before

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Only If For A Night

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Shake It Out


QUOTE

“The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished mss of today.”

Philip Unwin


Finding my way

Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.

This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.

The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.

So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.

Listening to:

Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears

Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside

Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release

A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark

Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You

Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory

Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition

Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.