Friday, August 24, 2012

What I've Learned: Theory v. Practice

Despite being cute, this is a very
functional model for storytelling.
I've started plotting out a new novel. I'm building on the successes I established from working on my current work in progress: I'm thinking ahead, planning the research that needs to be done to make the book believable in the context of the world I'm building.

To make it easier on myself, it's an SF story set in the modern world rather than somewhere in the galaxy though it's got lots of room for the fantastic. There are two pages of new notes over the last couple of days in addition to two other pages I've been working on since last December.

The advice I offered on Wednesday, to ask questions, is exactly what I'm doing to prep for this new book. Everything on the page starts with the 5 Ws + 1:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Where
  4. When 
  5. Why
  6. How
with modifiers for the main characters, the key villains, and even some supporting characters, too. Asking each of these six things about every plot point is showing me exactly where the book is going to go. From my experience of last year, this is how I'm building the middle of the book. I need to have a definite beginning and a very definite end before I can start writing.

Well, what I really need is one or the other. When I started writing last year, I didn't have a beginning and it was a couple of days in before I knew the exact ending. Having a chunk of Middle ready to write is fine and way beyond anything I had had in previous years. Knowing the ending is what fueled me to finish the book.

As I'm revising the novel now, the beginning has been the biggest pain in the backside and has caused a lot more grief/work/revisions than might've been necessary if I'd known what my opening should be. So that's a goal for this year's novel. 

I find the whole process very liberating. Maybe it's 'leveling up' and maybe it's the things that I've been doing all along but just not in as organized a fashion. Am I confident I know everything I need to in order to start writing? Nope. But I've got a couple of months before I get to the point of actually opening a new document on the computer to do that.

Do me a favor and stop by the Confabulator Cafe today, too. You'll find a lot of great writing advice this week about how each of us keeps the reader turning the pages. 

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