Back to the drawing board

30 10 2011

You cannot imagine how much I love my Kindle! I’ve downloaded so many wonderful books on writing that I hardly know where to begin.

First, I read Kristen Lamb‘s two wonderful books: We Are Not Alone – The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. I love Kristen’s upbeat and humorous writing style which is very easy to read. She goes out of her way to hold your hand as she shows you how to set up a WordPress blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook and a MySpace page.  I did much of that last Monday, and just about a week later I’m following a double handful of blogs, three times that in twitter feeds, and am writing my fourth blog post. Highly recommended!

The book that has sent me back to the drawing board is David Baboulene‘s The Story Book – a writers’ guide to story development, principles, problem resolution and marketing, which is an unbelievable bargain in Kindle format ($2.99! Less than my usual Starbucks double/tall/half-caf latte!) and is chock full of hints, tips, dos and don’ts for writing both screenplays and novels. He uses “Back To The Future” in example after example, which renders his points extremely clear.

So… last night I was reading about the Story Development Process, feeling more and more dismayed. I’ve written over 90,000 words in my novel since I first started writing in February 2011, and my heart sank as I read Baboulene’s comments on structuring a story. I’ve done none of that in planning my story. It has been very stream-of-consciousness… well, not exactly. I’ve been bouncing back and forth in the chronology of my protagonist’s life, skipping here and there as my whim lead me.

In fact, for some time I have been wondering about exactly how I should structure this tome (feeling that I’m not halfway through with it as it is), and wondering if I was doomed to toss a good percentage of what I’ve already written. I don’t even know the story’s ending at this point! Then today I spent more time with Baboulene’s book, and I realized that I needed to just STOP. Stop writing, and start planning. Now. Before I write another word.

I have a very good idea as to the story, as well as the key question. And when I look at many of the scenes that I’ve written, I can tell that they are quite good, from a structure and character development perspective (though the definitely can use some good editing and proofing!) I’m happy with much of my work thus far, and I think that I’m going to be able to use at least half of what I’ve written already. I’ve known that it needs direction, and I feel that if I follow his suggestions (using index cards with each scene aim on the front, the sequence objective in a sentence or two on the back, etc) I will be able to deliver a much tighter, focused, and interesting story in the end.

But… I can’t find my index cards tonight, and I feel like hell anyway. My weekend was fraught, and tomorrow is my day off. Between laundry and getting new tires for the car (yikes!) I hope that I can spend some quality time with some index cards, as well continuing to read my new friend Samantha Warren‘s Vampire Assassin (Jane Book 1) which I’m going to cue up in my Kindle right now. (Hi, Samantha!!)





4 responses

31 10 2011
Samantha Warren (@_SamanthaWarren)

Good luck with the restructuring, Julia! I’m very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, too. I’ll make a rough outline before I start so that I know where I want the story to go in the long run (this also helps when I hit a wall), but a lot of it just flows out (sometimes the characters say “nope, not doing that”). And I’m a scene-jumper, too. If I’m stuck somewhere, I’ll just go to something that’s calling to me. Most of the time, the scene I was stuck on resolves itself. If not, I often realize that that scene wasn’t needed anyway.

Let me know what you think of Vampire Assassin! I’m writing book 5 of the series for NaNo. 🙂


31 10 2011
Julia Indigo

I loved it, but it was too short! I wanted it to go on and on.
I think that I was channeling you (or visa versa), as my MC is named Steven… while he looks like that 6’4″ poor sod at the beginning of your story. I found that coincidence amusing…

31 10 2011
Karen McFarland

Hey Julia, it’s me Karen again.

Don’t fret too much, it’s only the first draft. One thing I’ve learned is that when we’re new, we all make similiar mistakes. Take a deep breathe and slowly let it out. I would go ahead and finish what you’ve started. Let your creative juices go. Nothings wasted. Look at it as a learning curve. Then when your finished with this draft, go back in and make the necessary changes or re-write if you need to. It’s not as uncommon as you think.
May the force be with you!

31 10 2011
Julia Indigo

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Karen.

I’m going to take your advice. By coincidence (ha!), this was posted today: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen. Though that’s not exactly what I do, I definitely start with the characters.

I’m going to post a bit of what I’ve written in a day or so… though the passage isn’t likely to remain in the book. It’s a description of my MC, and it’s TELLING, vs. showing. ::grin::

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