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Plan of Attack

February 8, 2010 1 comment

I’m fast realizing that updating this blog daily is not going to be feasible – especially on the weekends when it seems the days disappear before I have time to get even a few words down. I’ll update frequently though, dear reader, and promise to keep plugging away on my 60 minutes a day with or without a post (I know that you are tremendously concerned that I will not).

The last few days have been rough on the writing front. The hurdle: a submission deadline that I thought was not until March 31 is actually on March 1, so I have about two weeks to get a short story all prepped. The outline for that story is set, and the characters are established in my mind, but the actual writing is only just getting underway. I need about 2,000 words to meet the journal’s requirements.

I’ve put the novel on hold until I get this short piece done, then. It’s not an ideal situation. I wanted to finish the first two chapters before I set the novel aside for a rest, thinking that the story and characters needed to blossom a bit before I left them for something else. I don’t want to lose the impetus on the novel, because I have faith that it can be a publishable piece. But if I’m honest with myself I realize that the novel has been in my head for at least three years, and a two week hiatus is not going to do any irreparable harm to my ability to tell the story.

The challenge of the short story is that it is for a far different reader than my YA novel. I am attempting to develop a more mature voice for this submission, and have found that in doing so I’m over thinking the whole process. I am getting bogged down and am feeling the story stall.

I’ve resolved to stop all hemming and hawing on the artistry of the piece for now and get the plot out and the characters developed. After I put this post up, I’m going back to the story and will put in another solid 30-60 minutes to try to get up to 1,000 words or so before bed. Using the outline as a guide, I think that’s an achievable target. The short term plan is to have the story done by Friday in (very) rough draft form. I’ll polish it for a week and send it on its way. I’m sure I won’t feel that the story got its due once the envelope is mailed, but at least I’ll have completed the whole drafting/revising/re-drafting/editing/submitting process.

On a side note, my wife has been plucking white hairs out of my head for the last 6 days. I’m 31. This is a frightful development. I’m not ready to blame the writing, though. The white hair probably got much more to do with the MSU basketball team.

Right?

Words Per Minute

February 4, 2010 Comments off

It must mean something that I am far more excited each day to write my novel than I am to write for this blog. It’s a bit of a stretch coming up with pithy commentary each day, especially after I’ve already cramped my phalanges with an hour of storytelling.

I planned to write this blog because I thought it would help me get the most out of the writing process, though, so I do not want to abandon this piece of the effort. The point of this blog is metacognition. I’ve waited too long to start writing. I have had stories in my head for years and have always found a way to put off writing them. Having found the motivation to finally begin, I feel like I need to expedite my growth as a writer by publicly sharing what the writing process does and means to me.

So this is what I’ve got for today:

All in all it was a good one.  I only wrote 500 words or so, but I crafted a fun scene and got through some tough dialogue.

I sat down to write this novel with no outline, but with a very good sense of the overall plot arch in my head. I knew the main characters (though not their names), I knew the general structure the story would follow, and I knew the key points of conflict and climax. I chose not to write a rigid outline, because I wanted the narrative to develop organically and to get a real sense of who I am as a writer. That paid off for the first time a few hours ago.

That was when I found that the story has taken an exciting turn. I reached a point in the plot I had not foreseen – a point that makes perfect sense and helps develop all three of my main characters while at the same time defining the conflicts between them. It’s also a point of increased action – fast-paced and intense – one of those parts of a book that as a reader I fly through and re-read to be sure I got it all.  It was an un-planned scene, and it was fun to write.

It was an interesting day as a storyteller. My greatest frustration was that I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my head.  I know that that can’t continue every day, but if I had never started this project, today would never have happened.