Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Note From the Writer's Desk

Since my last update on the seventh, I've been steadily writing enough to get back into the story, even if it hasn't been as much as I'd like. I'm definitely behind for the month, but I don't think there's anything wrong with giving yourself a break. I spent some time adding outline things to my mannuscript, which makes the headings show up in the Document Map and there's a little blurb underneath each to get me started. Mary Robinette Kowal gave that advice in one of the Writing Excuses episodes, I can't remember which one.

When I was working on my first Merpeople manuscript I made my entire outline, complete with character backgrounds and photographs, settings, and detailed outline. The headers were all different levels and everything showed up beautifully, but I think I took it to the extreme and I went too far, to the point were it was distracting. Everything was colorful and formatted and if I decided to change something I would have to go through the entire thing and make it all consistent. I spent too much time formatting. Not to mention the outline wasn't very good to begin with.

This time, the headings are simple, with a main level for each POV and a second level for the individual scenes. It also made a huge difference that I wrote several scenes first, and then when things started to slow down in my brain, I added the headings for several more scenes that I was beginning to think about, but wasn't ready to write yet. By adding a paragraph of notes under each unwritten scene, I was able to get my thoughts in order again and continue writing. I still have several scenes on the outline that aren't included in the manuscript yet, and I'll need to brainstorm even more than that.

I'm realizing that brainstorming really helps me, sometimes for crafting the nuances of the story as I write, and sometimes just for keeping my ass on track. But if I start thinking too far ahead, things get far-fetched and ridiculous and always end up changing, but it's good to have a general idea and to have that WRITTEN DOWN so I can refer back to it as I go and use it as a starting point.

Lately, it's been really fun writing! I now have several scenes in each POV, so all of the characters are finally starting to have some life and some consistency. I go back and forth between which is my favorite, but this is something that can be handled in revisions and tweaked, to make sure each character is interesting and can carry their half of the story, and that both POVs carry the tension. I've realized that tension is all handled in revisions (or will be) because my first drafts are always noodly. Having several scenes outlined in the manuscript makes it easier to write out of order, which makes it easier to keep writing.

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