Saturday, December 6, 2008

Plan for Finishing My Novel

Write Missing Scenes

  1. Make a list of missing scenes. (Luckily, I already have easy-to-spot placeholders throughout the document, so this step should be pretty mechanical.)
  2. Calculate how long it should take me to write these scenes. Set goals.
  3. Write the scenes! Same "quality" bar as for NaNo; just get the remaining scenes written.

Track Characters

  1. Annotate the document with where characters appear in the scenes.
  2. Evaluate this character-appearances list: Who just disappears after chapter 4? Who randomly appears in chapter 8 as a major character (eg, the real antagonist; oops!) Decide whether to cut a character, combine multiple characters, or give a character a larger role so that their removal is unnecessary.
  3. Make a list of "missed opportunities" that I might want to work into the story. (For example, no one important ever wrestles with whether to Sacrifice themselves. There's potential for good conflict/drama there, but the plot would have to be altered for it to be necessary.)
  4. Make a list of scenes to add, modify, cut, or move.

Let both lists stew while going through the next two phases...

Research and World-Building

  1. Read books about relevant Earth history: guilds, non-monarchy governments, coups (successful or not), dictators (especially their motivations), etc. Take notes.
  2. Outline my territory's history, based on research. (How did they end up with their semi-representative High Council system of government? What have flesh/spirit relations been like before the current Guild system? What are the neighboring territories, and how have they influenced this territory's history and culture? Etc.)
  3. Write character bios (including basic ones for "scenery" characters).

Practice Writing

(done concurrently with the researching step above)

  1. Read books on writing. Take notes.
  2. Do writing exercises (not on my NaNo story, though).
  3. Critique other people's writing to practice what to look for in my own writing.
  4. Read other authors. Note how they handle characterization, magic (especially mental battles, which I had trouble writing), government-taking-over intrigue, romantic subplots that aren't lame...

Refine Plot and Characters

  1. While referring to the world-building notes and character bios, re-read the story and take notes about scenes and subplots to add or modify.
  2. Write the scenes! At the end of the next step, I should feel ready for beta readers...

Revise Draft

Here there be beta readers! By the time I get to here, the plot and characters should actually be fleshed out the way I like. From this point on, I'll be working on the smaller parts of the story: word choice, tone, etc. I'll figure out in more detail what needs to be worked on once I get to here.


Friday, December 5, 2008

ʇsod uʍop-ǝpısdn

(˙ʇsod ƃoןq sıɥʇ ʍǝıʌ oʇ ssǝupooƃ ǝpoɔıun ɥʇıʍ ʇuoɟ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɯos ɹo sɯ ǝpoɔıun ןɐıɹɐ pǝǝu ןןıʍ noʎ)

˙˙˙ooʇ 'sǝʇıs ʎʇıןıʇn ǝƃɐɯı-ɹoɹɹıɯ ǝɹǝʍ ǝɹǝɥʇ ʎןuo ɟı ʍou ¡unɟ ǝɥʇ uo uı uıoɾ uɐɔ noʎ ʇɐɥʇ os ןɯʇɥ˙sɹǝʇʇǝןuʍopǝpısdn/ʎɐןd/ɯoɔ˙sǝɹıʍuǝʌǝs˙ʍʍʍ//:dʇʇɥ ʇno ʞɔǝɥɔ oƃ ˙op ʎǝɥʇ ǝsɹnoɔ ɟo ¿ʇɥƃıɹ 'uʍop-ǝpısdn ǝʇıɹʍ oʇ sʇuɐʍ ǝuoʎɹǝʌǝ os


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

First Drafts

During November, "pep talk" emails are periodically sent out to Wrimos. Published authors wrote these pep talks, which was pretty cool. The post-NaNo one was written by Kelley Armstrong (whom, I must admit, I hadn't heard of), author of several fantasy novels. She had this to say to us unpublishing Wrimo winners:

What NaNoWriMo gave me was a quick and dirty first draft, and by the end of it, I could see that my book had some good stuff... and it had some serious problems and missed opportunities. ... If a multi-published author can’t expect to turn out a publishable first draft during NaNoWriMo, then neither should you. ... It’s a rare writer who publishes the first book they wrote — I didn’t — so practice is invaluable.

The "missed opportunities" part is so true! I am braving the waters of letting other Wrimos critique my steaming pile of— er, I mean, my rough draft. Just writing the synopsis for my story, I realized "omg, I should have done that to the character!" or "d'oh, of course I need to include this!" That's what revising is for, eh?