of the new year has been good so far.
I’m still working on this rewrite, but it’s going well. I have a couple scenes I need to add and yesterday I had to do a total rewrite of another. This is my first rewrite of this story so there is a lot to fix. I’m sure I’ll go through this thing at least a half dozen more times before it’s done. But each one will be faster than the last and it will be better for all the work.
I have a couple more revisions to make, but before too much longer I’ll be ready for some beta readers, is there anyone out there who wants to do that for me? Just use the Contact Me page above and let me know. I’ll choose several when the time is right.
It’s something I get asked often, and I mean often. How do I outline. Well, here’s my dirty little secret. I don’t. Not in any traditional sense anyway. Let me explain though…
First I write in Scrivener for Windows. I’m not saying that’s what you need to write with, but it’s what works for me and my style of writing.
I usually start writing with a couple of good characters, some background story in my head (and sometimes written in a notebook somewhere) a starting point and and ending point. So I create my Scrivener file and in the novel section create two “cards” I use each card as a scene in the book. I title each card with something that tells me what happens in the scene “X meets Y” “Car Crash” “Robbery” for example and start writing. As I work things start to pop into my head “A needs to happen before we can get to L point” so I’ll create a card and title it and continue with what I’m doing. I’ll often also leave several blank “New Note” cards at the bottom of the project so all I have to do is title the card and drop it where it belongs in the story.
Later I may decide that I need something in between scenes, and this is where I totally love Scrivener, I can drop a new card in there or take an already written scene from some where else and move it to a new spot in the book, as simple as drag and drop.
Sometimes I’ll be somewhere else, doing something entirely different (picking kids up at school, waiting at sports practice) and I’ll think up several things that need to happen in the book, I’ll make notes, and when I come back add in the cards for those scenes, with enough info that I’ll remember what I need to do when I get to it.
Am I saying this is how you should do it? No. I’m saying this is what works for me, what works for you?
It’s not uncommon for me to come to a point in my story where I’m not sure how someone will react, or what will happen next. But I have a fairly simple solution, one that may even work for you.
I ask questions about the situation. I’ll write the questions down in the notebook for that story. For example: How does __ feel about x. How does __ react to x. What needs to happen before I can get to x. Sometimes the answers start to come to me as I write out the questions… sometimes I have to get away from my desk and do something else, fold laundry, load the dishwasher, lay down for 15 mins and close my eyes, take a shower are some of the more common things I do. I don’t go do these and think about the story, I go do these and clear my mind. It’s the clearing, and not focusing on what the problem is, that let’s my subconscious get to work.
How do you work through the stuck? Let me know what works for you.
You know how it feels when you find a really good book, you know what I mean, when you don’t feel like you’re reading the story or watching a movie of the story, but the ones where you feel like you are a part of the story? That’s what it feels like when I’m sucked into a story I’m writing. The rest of the world fades and the people around me often have to say my name several times before it registers that they’re talking to me.
I’m starting to get this way on my current story. I know my characters well enough that they’ll either talk to me or better yet, through me. Sometimes, I find myself mentally arguing with them about what I want to happen and what they tell me is happening. Once in a while I even find things on the screen that I didn’t consciously think. Those are often some of the best passages, at least in my opinion. Either way, I love it when it happens, it’s part of what makes writing magical for me. Do you write? What makes it magical for you?
It’s getting to be that time of year here, when the weather’s hot and dry and stepping outside feels like you’re climbing into a convection oven. The heat shocks the breath out of you and the wind sucks all the moisture out of your skin. This means I spend a great deal of time inside hiding from said heat when I can, having three kids playing baseball this spring means I have practices and games I have to ferry them to and attend, despite the heat.
Since I’ve had the time, I got a lot of work done on HUNT and it is now available. I’ve also got another story ready to go, it will be released near the end of the summer, I’ll share more about it soon, and I’ve started working on a sequel to ESCAPE. If what I have in mind works out, it will be another series, this one a little different, as each story will center around a different couple. That should be done about the end of this year, or very early next year, depending on how it goes. I’ll let you know more when I can.
At least it seems like it. For the last several weeks (pretty much since the first of the year,) I’ve been working on revisions of several projects. I move back and forth, rotating with whichever is on my mind at the moment.
I have had a couple of new ideas, I took careful notes and I’m letting them build, but they’re not quite ready yet. In the mean time, I have deadlines and a publication date to meet, so revisions it is. Revisions are just as important as drafting, as they’re where you make it good. First drafts are crappy, they’re supposed to be crappy, but through revisions and rewriting we turn crappy drafts into something that sparkles and shines.
To me, progress on revisions is less obvious. At the end of the day you don’t have a significant word count added to what you started with, and if, like me, you don’t work in software that gives you pages(except for the final revision), you don’t have a page finished count. That doesn’t mean it’s not just as, if not more, important.
So back I go into my seemingly bottomless pit of revisions. When I come out I’ll have at least one fresh, clean manuscript ready for the publisher.
How do you do it?
Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon on a road trip, I ended up with more than five hours behind the wheel, with two kids in the car, both absorbed in the games they were playing on their individual devices. The radio was on, my favorite station, XM’s Octane, but I drove across a lot of empty desert, there wasn’t much to see. This lead, as it always does, to my mind wandering, I think over plot lines, I consider characters and their stories, I review things I’ve already written and come up with some new material.
It was after 9pm when I got home last night, but I had several things I had to get down, directions that current stories will need to go, details that my characters had let slip during that long drive. So, once I got the kids in bed, I took my laptop and set up camp in the recliner, turning on an old movie to keep me company. Once I got my side notes down I started on the new project that had haunted me for the last two hours of my trip. I couldn’t wait to get started, I had to get at least some of it down.
So I opened a new Scrivener file and got to work. My movie ended and I started another, not really registering the passage of time. The story was unfolding at my fingertips and that was what mattered, the people talking in my head, not the ones on the screen or the hands of a clock moving on their own. I was startled when the low battery alert popped up in front of me. I had been working for almost six hours (yes, my laptop battery lasts that long.)
I saved my work (not for the first time) and stretched and went to plug in the computer. I had gotten a lot done. I was happy, though, more than a little sleepy.
This morning I sat back down to it, the same project flowing as easily as it had last night. I’ve been up and down today, dealing with kids, feeding them, caring for them, getting them ready to go back to school in the morning. Even with all the distractions during the day I’ve managed to make thirty-six pages in the last twenty four hours. It’s been a really good day. I’m happy with it.
Now I’m going to go unwind a little in front of the TV, maybe knit a little, I would really like to finish my hood, though I know that won’t happen tonight.
I hope you had as good of day as I did.