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.


John Cowan said...

On point 8, dictators who aren't just greedmeisters usually seize power because things are in chaos, and they think they can do better in restoring order. Of course, it rarely stops there: "necessity, the tyrant's plea" (Milton, Paradise Lost).

On point 11, I urge Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin (very brief excerpt here) on you as the best book on writing I have ever read.

Bethanie said...

Sounds like a good plan! I'm sort of at #3 at the moment on mine. I have a goal for December and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping it actually gets me to the end of the story... We shall see... Good luck!