Thursday, February 1, 2007

Plotting my way out of a paper bag

If you look over at my word-count-widget thing on the right - things are looking grim. In fact, it's looking like I couldn't string a thousand words together to save myself. It's looking like I refused to get out of bed and instead spent all of January reading novel after novel instead of writing my own (me? read in bed all day? NEVER!).

But no! That little 3654 word count is all character development and plot -- yes, PLOT because this month I've been working with First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner. Now, as the author admits, the title is misleading. What you're aiming for is a heavily detailed outline in 30 days rather than a first draft. But that's fine by me. I never wanted a first draft anyway, just a direction and a road map. Or so I keep telling myself.

It goes like this:
Days 1-6: Preliminary outlines and sketches
Days 7-13: Research
Days 14-15: Story evolution (ideas for beginning, middle, end)
Days 16-24: Formatted outline
Days 25-28: Evaluating the strength of the outline
Days 29-30: Revising outline - and on Day 30, you're to put this outline "on a shelf for at least two weeks to several months". I guess while you let it all sink in. That makes sense, because I'll always put a draft away for a month or so and always find everything is clearer when I go back to it.

But of course, I didn't really end up with a heavily detailed outline either because by Day 15 my my muse went and hid under a rock and no amount of timtams could coax her out. "You're making it boring!" she said, followed by "I just want to write it!".

She started making me dream about the story at 1am and waking me up so I could get my trusty torch pen out to write it all down.So of course I listened to her (she's normally quite sage) and started working on a synopsis based on what I've got. You can take the girl out of the Pantzer, but you can't take the Pantzer out of the girl. Apparently.

But, the good news is that I have a rough frame work rather than flying blind into the mist which always freaks me out and makes me write too fast so that I can figure out what the book is about. The other news is that I learned that I'm not ready and maybe never will be ready for a detailed plot way of working. I'm somewhere in between Plotting and Pantzing.


Writing Theory No. 1 - no one else can teach you what your process is (even a kick ass book like First Draft in Thirty Days), you have to do that work and it takes a LONG TIME. But hey, what's a few years when you're going to be writing for the rest of your life? Exactly.

And Writing Theory No.2 - finding that process, which unfortunately changes over time, is some of the most important work a writer can do. And you have to be gentle with yourself, and just take it on the chin and move on when something doesn't work out. Easier said than done.

In other news, I've finally run out of the 1kg bag (I'm probably exaggerating, but it just seemed to last and last) of Daim I bought at Ikea a month or so back. Now, there are many things to be
thankful about Ikea for: my wardrobes, the beautiful kitchen I built with hubby and maybe even the pull out keyboard that makes my old kitchen table such a great desk. But since I've found these little chocolate covered almond toffees, so slim you can crunch them in one bite - I couldn't give a rat's ass about the furniture. JUST GIVE ME THE CHOCOLATE!!

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Gabrielle said...

Ok, I know what I need to send you--they have instant cappuccino here with little sachets of Daim to sprinkle over the top. Check your mail in a week or so!

Kez said...

totally agree with your theories. But then, I'm a pantzer from way, way back--and far worse at plotting than you.

must hunt down those chocolates....

Robyn said...

You, Miss Kez, are a pantzer with beautiful clean first drafts.

And you Miss G, definitely need to send me some cappuccino things YUM!!!

aaron21 said...

Heck you got farther along then I do lol. I basically think about the next 5-6 things or so in the story.So at least better at plotting then I am lol.