I started off my writing journey as a full on pantser, just writing as the words and images coursed from my brain to the page. I wrote out of sequence. I wrote adverbally. Every day was an adventure. The story emerged on the page. I discovered who the characters were, what they were like, what they were doing, and where they were going.
Then I got stuck.
Why. Yep that was the question. Why were the characters doing things. Why were they motivated. Why were they in this setting.
Then I learned to write back story and plot. I chafe at structure. I want to be free. My job is structured, why can’t writing just flow without structure? Well, maybe it does for some, it doesn’t for me, at least not yet.
So, I’ve become more of a Plotter/Planner. I have my editorial map, which is a great tool for me. I’m 12 of 24 scenes into the first act. I’m off all week, so we’ll see how I progress on this next 12 scenes.
Two years. I started this blog two years ago as an accountability partner for myself. To keep myself writing. To track my progress, ups, and downs.
- The act of writing itself
- Encouragement from other WordPress bloggers
- Meeting other writers at the PNWA annual conference
- Working with my first editor
- Working with my author coach
- Finishing a draft of the full book
- Getting positive feedback from agents at a conference
- Getting feedback from family, friends and the writing group
- Learning at conferences and seminars
- Learning from reading so many great novels and writer books
- Revising (Until I learned to enjoy it)
- Writing back story (Until I figured out a method)
- Crap, this is taking a long time
- Man I’m a crappy writer
- I’ll never finish this thing
- I’m so tired of this story
- Killing off my first character
- Switching main characters
- Learning how much I don’t know
- Not being done
It’s been a great journey. I’m 11k words into this current draft. We’ll see if this is the one.
Thanks for riding along with me.
I’m quickly coming up on two years work on this book. Seems like a long time, but it is my first, and I’ve learned a bunch. I’ve learned better by doing than if I’d started in classes. Sure I’ve taken classes and read books along the way, but they didn’t make sense to me until I was facing problems with my own work.
So, why is it a new beginning? Because I wrote a new beginning to my novel. I’ve heard from more than one critique partner/reader that they didn’t feel much empathy, if any, toward my main character when she worked through the opening scene. That’s not good. So, I backed up in the story, just a bit, just enough to give the reader a sense of the main character, their relationships, and the things important to them. Seems like it worked.
Oh, and all these months I’ve been working with an author coach; a couple month long sessions. I’ve also been writing back story, history, character profiles, etc. All that work was like drudgery to me, but has led up to now when I can actually focus back on writing the story. I’m 10k words in on this draft and the story feels stronger, more three dimensional.
Here’s hoping that this draft will be worth the time to edit and finish. Well, I will finish it, regardless. Just to be done and move on to a second book.
I recently went through every scene in my book and created an editorial map using guidance from Fiction University’s Janice Hardy. Plug: Fiction University is a great blog with relevant daily advice for writers. http://blog.janicehardy.com/.
The first part of creating an editorial map means going scene by scene and documenting these elements.
(from Janice Hardy’s guest post at http://writersinthestormblog.com/2014/09/the-benefits-of-doing-an-editorial-map/)
- What is the POV character trying to do in this scene? (the goal)
- Why are they trying to do it? (the motivation for that goal)
- What’s in the way of them doing it? (the conflict)
- What happens if they don’t do it? (the stakes)
- What goes wrong (or right)? (how the story moves forward)
- What important plot or story elements are in the scene? (what you need to remember or what affects future scenes)
When I went through my WIP and answered these questions scene by scene I could easily see scenes to cut, and scenes that didn’t have enough conflict.
I spent the summer through October writing backstory and researching. Now that my editorial map is done, I’m back to writing.
This method is working great for me, and I encourage you to give Janice Hardy’s guest post a read.