Archive for January, 2006

January 9, 2006

A Plan, a Plan, My Kingdom for a Plan

Writing is a business therefore it’s essential for a writer to have a business plan. Something like;

1. I want to write a novel
2. I want to publish this novel
3. I want to promote my published novel
4. I want to live the life of the rich and famous

If the above list is what you want, then baby, you’re in the wrong business to achieve number four.

So let’s eliminate four and concentrate on the other doable goals. We’ll take each item over the next six days and blog about how to succeed.

I Want to Write a Novel

Let’s do it! Grab your calendar and a block of paper. Cozy up in your favorite writing spot with a beverage, because we’re going to be here for awhile.

When I’m done with my edits this week I have to start on the sequel. The new book will be 50,000 plus words. It will be pounded out over a period of time, edited, added, deleted, edited, and the cycle continues until the manuscript is perfect to submit.

I need to finish this new work in five months. Seems a long time, doesn’t it? NOT. The fact is writing and real life never seems to work well together. UNLESS YOU PLAN.

Got yourself comfy? Here we go.

50,000 words divided by 10 weeks equal 5,000 words a week. For a serious writer this is an attainable goal because some weeks you’ll do more and some weeks you’ll do less. These words will construct sentences and scenes you’ll delete, move around, or wonder why the hell you ever wrote them.

Week One

1 – Characterization
Write your characterizations of the hero, heroine, and important secondary characters. It will probably take one full day. The writer must know the history of their characters. Their past events are what make them be the people they are today. It is what has driven them to be honest, strong, or steal. You won’t know why your hero runs into the burning building to save the heroine if you don’t understand his history.

So how do you so this? Very easy, but time consuming. Don’t fudge on this. It’s too important to writing a novel that will impress an editor.

The stars need an extensive characterization. Following is the process;

• Park yourself at your computer. Each characterization will take several hours so relax and enjoy.

• Choose one of the lead characters.

• Imagine you are that person. We’ll use the hero for the example.

• Just type. Bang out his life starting at boyhood. Write in his voice. It’s amazing how your phrases will alter as he ages. Bring him up to the starting point of your novel. Include every detail no matter how unimportant it may seem. Let your mind run on and you will be him, living the high points of his youth and what drove him to the man where your story begins. You’re in his point of view. Did he pee his pants in third grade? What really happened? What did he see, smell, and feel inside?

Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Just type. No one else will ever read your work.

Do this with your heroine as well.

You have finally finished your stars. It’s time to begin on your supporting cast. They’ll take much less time as they aren’t nearly as important. You don’t have to start in their childhood. Type up a brief bio, something similar to an obituary of a famous person.

2 – Outline the story
You don’t have to kill yourself over this but otherwise it’s like taking a road trip without a map. It also comes in handy when you write the synopsis.

You know there’s a beginning. Having done the characterizations will give you a head’s up on two important elements.

a. Starting your book at the important part, when your characters lives need to come together.
b. The ability to drop in back story at the appropriate times instead of flooding your reader with to much too soon. Drop Ins will actually move your story to the conclusion.

3 – Spiral Notebook
Buy a spiral notebook to record all the above info and also any great lines of scenes that spring into your mind. This is your daily log and it will keep everything together for reference.

On the inside back cover I’ve made columns as follows;
Chap # Wood Count 1st Edit Pgs

After my editor sends back the pages / scenes needing change I’ll add to the columns;
Chap # Word Count 1st Edit WC Pgs Final Edit WC Pgs

This practice helps me with the future books to keep my writing tight.

Starting from the back page and working in, I list all the high points in one line of the important characters back story for easy reference. Each character gets a page or two. I then write in the margin the page I’ve used that particular line of back story. You’ll be surprised at how much back story you don’t use because the characters actions will express it better than a cold fact.

Next is a section for lines or phrases to use somewhere. These are things I’ve overheard and am sure they’re too hot or cute to forget. All or none may be used in my WIP. The not used are moved into the notebook for a new story. When I do use one of these pearls, I write in the margin which page.

Leave two or so pages blank and begin your chapters. I write the chapter number and a heading for my personal reference on the notebook’s left-hand page. The heading helps me relocate a chapter if it’s not working in the original sequence. In the margin is the location. After the red line I write the events that must occur in that location. The right hand page is blank and saved for notes.

It looks like this;

Left-hand Page Right-hand Page
Bar John is alone at a table
Mary walks in & sits @ separate table
John is attracted & wants to meet Mary Increase tension/show what he sees-smells

My chapter section continues on until the outline is recorded. This procedure clearly shows me what’s crap and how to move the story forward.

The front inside cover is listed with my Rules. Such as;
a. Never use a comma before ‘and’, ‘but’, or ‘or.
b. Remember the tome of the characters and the book. If the character is light and funny from the beginning, keep it so. If the character is morbid or droll, I can’t have them start joking from page ninety on.
c. Keep the sexual tension high.
d. H/H can’t be apart for more then one chapter. They must think about each other in the ‘apart’ chapter.

Starting with page one in the notebook, create a daily log such as;
Today I want to write 1,000 on Amy’s conflict on her boyfriend dumping her.
By noting your day’s goal in the permanent ledger it keeps you focused. It’s also possible to track your accomplishments.

4 – Note on your calendar what needs to be accomplished daily. Remember it will be necessary for you to work around real life. You can always advance your progress if the world is being kind.
Write your daily to-do list so you can work on what’s important for that day. You can always change around the schedule if ideas are gushing forth. Flexibility is important.

Tomorrow we’ll take the actual writing of the novel in several steps.

Happy writing,
Sloane

Sloane said @ 11:28 am | It's All About Writing | 14 Comments

January 6, 2006

Problems

Sorry to disappoint you ladies and gents, but this is the only post for today. A few techinical clitches have stopped progress. Monday will be the Business Plan for Writing.

Have a good week-end,
Sloane

Sloane said @ 10:54 am | General | 1 Comment

January 5, 2006

A Goal in the Hand is Worth Two in the Trash

It’s the New Year, 2006. Hard to believe we’re off and running with the holidays past us. So you probably drank enough champagne to make a wise man cringe and of course you made resolutions you broke just like the rest of us.

If you’re a promising writer, undoubtedly you’re positive this is the year. It sure could be but it’s all up to you. Just how were you going to make it happen? Have you thought of what you’ll do to make your dream come true? How? When, besides sometime this year?

GOALS…BUSINESS PLAN… These are the words you should be concentrating on this week. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Have you figured your goals or written a plan? It doesn’t have to be on the order of a Fortune 500 company. It has to be something that will work for you.

Is it okay if we use me as an example? Thank you.

My goals are;

1 – Edit my present book
2 – Write the second book in the series

Each of these works will be 50,000 plus words when completed. It ain’t never gonna happen if I just sit around and dream. Allow me to share how I approach this mind-numbing task.

I’m a daily to-do list and calendar freak. I like my life plotted and planned. Of course there has to be room for flexibility. By devloping an ADJUSTABLE plan I’ve got it made.

To work out a feasible system of accomplishing my two goals, I grabbed a legal pad and the calendar, which already has enough social commitments listed for year to make me weep, and parked myself in a comfortable chair.

We’ll lay out the schedule for each goal in two separate plans for easier reading.

Goal 1 – Edit my present book

This novel has twenty-four chapters and an epilogue. Each section has been printed because I work better with a hard copy. I study the chapters, one at a time, scrawling notes to myself all over the pages and any additional info in a spiral notebook. I can take a chapter with to pore over while I’m waiting for an appointment, a slow moving train, or anything else which has me sitting and doing zip.

I want this work done in a relatively short period of time, thirty days. By reading the calendar I know there are many days when editing just isn’t possible. Those days are marked in red for other writing tasks on the next book such as research, characterization, reading trade magazine, and so forth.

The doable days have listed a chapter number and a brief note as to what must be done to finish the edits. All Fridays are reserved to re-read that week’s edits and make any last changes.

So the calendar looks like the following;

Sunday January 8
No work today. Play with my granddaughters.

Monday January 9
Chapter 3
Bring in tour business somehow / change D’s business purchase to a tax audit? Would it work and simplify

Tuesday January 10
Chapter 15
T must confess credit card over extended / Move dialogue from pg 89 here

Wednesday January 11
Great sale at Carson’s!! If I finished my work I can reward myself!!!
Dentist at 2
Meet Lor for dinner at 7

Thursday January 12
Jesse here at 8 a.m. for her edits
Pick up C from school 3:15 – take along new RWR
Chapter 20
Embellish sex scene / needs more emotion – switch to hero’s POV

Friday January 13
No time to worry about superstition
Re-read three chapters and approve
Out with the friends at 7

Saturday January 14
No work today. Play with Studly.

Please note the chapters are not in sequence. To finish in the allotted time, I’ve selected the easiest chapters to final edit and saved the more involved for the end of my month. It’s a trick I do to reduce the load while I mentally work out those tough scenes that are driving me crazy.

My daily to-do list will embellish on the above such as;

This is the calendar entry;
Monday January 9
Chapter 3
Bring in tour business somehow / change D’s business purchase to a tax audit? Would it work and simplify

This is the to-do list;
1. read chap as is
2. check POV of D – is it all his?
3. embellish D’s anger through his actions
4. is C a big enough pain in the ass?
5. is the setting over described
6. check out tax audit info to be accurate
7. lunch at 1- no exceptions
8. walk around and do neck exercises in am & afternoon
9. check coma positions

It’s very important to treat your goal plan seriously. You need to work at your writing career with the same diligence as a fulltime yearly income job if you want to succeed. Let the machine pick up those calls, eat, drink plenty of fluids preferably water, take scheduled breaks. And above all, have fun.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the goals for the new book and how it’s laid out. Until then,

Happy writing,
Sloane

Sloane said @ 8:26 am | It's All About Writing | 11 Comments