Thursday, February 09, 2006

Work, Work, Work

I've been struggling this week. Oh who am I kidding? I've been struggling for weeks. With a full-time job, 2 sick children, a husband who is job hunting and worrying about possibly losing his current job, I've had quite a bit of stress lately.

In the midst of all the chaos my WIP has hit a bump in the road. A point where my writing process has become work. And I gotta say I've got enough stuff in my life that I have to force myself to do these days I really didn't need this right now. But despite that I keep chugging along. Why? Because it's worth it to me. No one said that achieving my dream would be easy. And in fact, I don't think I want it to be. When that fist sale call comes in, and it will one day, I don't think I'd appreciate it nearly as much without all the blood, sweat and tears that lead up to the moment. You can't truly appreciate the enormity of a situation if it's handed to you on a silver platter. Are there days I'd prefer the platter? You betcha!!

But, thanks to wonderful friends (Kimberly who helped me plot last weekend and the rest of the playfriends who were quick to offer help as well!) I think I'm back on track. I won't say it's been smooth sailing this week (see above mention of 2 sick children and stressed out husband) but I'm getting there.

After three years of writing I'm still tweaking my process (although I'm not sure I fully understand the concept of process but Kimberly is going to be doing and excellent workshop in Sept to explain it all to us) and just this week decided I needed a visual map of my story so that I could track character arcs, plot lines, and scene holes. I know some of you are gasping in shock. No, I have not given up my panster ways. The dang chart isn't even half full (or is that half empty?) but it will be. And as I figure out more and more pieces to this puzzle I'm building I'll get a better, more complete picture (which will hopefully help me in the editing process). I'm trying to think of it as one giant sudoku puzzle - only with words instead of numbers.

So like my crazy life, my process is constantly evolving.
Are you a panster or plotter? Have you found a great pre-writing tool that's really helped keep your book on track? Or a fantastic way to coral all those stray subplots, character arcs and scenes? Let me know!! I"m always looking for something new to try to make my writing life easier.



Problem Child said...

Wow. Two shout outs in one blog entry.

I'm getting all puffy as we speak.

But, you'll be pleased to know that I got that first chapter sorted out today...I'm really chuffed about it. You may actually be able to keep the cast of thousands straight!!


Problem Child said...

And what I meant to add was

Thanks y'all for the help with that confusing chap!

Playground Monitor said...

I always thought I was a pantser but the more I write, I discover I need to have a little more control over things. But not too much control.

I recently wrote two articles to submit to a magazine and I had an outline of where the story was going and for the first time in a LONG time I was able to turn off the internal editor and just write and write and write. Then I went back and did the edits and cleaned things up. Of course the fact that these were written in first person helped in terms of not worrying about POV shifts. *g* But it felt good to be able to write 5-6 pages at a sitting.

I actually pulled the WIP off the shelf tonight and looked at it. Maybe...

Angel said...

I'm glad things are getting straightened out, Instigator. At least in one area... :)

Two tools that particular help me keep track of my story and where it is going (I'm most definitely the plotter in this group!) are ones I discovered through the Discovering Story Magic Workshop given my Robin Perini and Laura Baker.

They use a character grid that covers all the points discussed in the workshop and a story board. The latter is simply a chart of squares where you map out where your scenes are located in the story, including turning points, the black moment, and resolution.

I like using this because it helps me see where gaps might be and pacing. Plus I can see the logical progression of my story and make sure I haven't dropped any story lines.


Smarty Pants said...

Angel, that sounds a little like what Gayle Wilson and Roxanne St. Clair presented in Reno. I've got a jr. high science project board marked into 20 squares, one for each chapter.

Pink post-its are for the romance plot. Blue post-its are for the mystery/suspense/paranormal plot. Green is for the subplot and if I ever managed a second subplot, I've got yellow ones too.

This too helps me with holes, turning points, making sure I don't tell the story in 6 chapters, etc. What's nice is that if I end up with one chapter becoming two, I can just pick up the post-its and move them around.

I started using it after I started my current WIP and it really helped me get through the middle. I think it will be very helpful as I develop my next one too.

Counselor Shelley said...

Where can I get a writer/non-writer translator? It took me a while to figure out what WIP is.