The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

clean slate

Yesterday I scribbled a bunch of thoughts re. the swordfighting ms in various spirals throughout the house. I made notes about the MC's motivations and feelings and worked out what probably happened to set him off, and I made a list of some scenes that would show a lot of the stuff that I merely inserted here and there as backstory in older versions. I still can't see how the book starts, or what order these beginning scenes would have to go in to make sense. But I am trying now to pay attention to how I feel. Now I want to try not to push this ms according to what makes sense, but to use the momentum of whatever is calling strongly to me. Of course a story needs to make sense and you have to use a little brain power to write--you can't write by gut all the time, or your book will never be readable. But I think I need to learn how to balance those two approaches better and with more awareness.

Maybe I am working out my own way to plot. For me--with this project, anyway--it doesn't seem to work to start from a strictly plotting standpoint. By that I mean I figured out the story first, step by step, chapter by chapter; I figured it out and it all made perfect sense, down to the chapter hooks. Then I went back to try to figure out how to show the reader the characterization I knew was already there, underneath. That approach has not worked.

I still have the storyline in my head (more completely and in more detail than I usually do), but now I am going to try integrating my usual scattered messy process of writing bits that appeal to me and organizing them later. Having the storyline in my head may be my own way to plot. Usually I have only the vaguest idea what's going to happen, and a lot of the scenes are more like mood pieces that I adapt and shift around till they work. This ms has story. It could be that, for me, knowing what happens and to whom and when and where and why serves as the superorganized straightforward writing process that some plot-driven authors use. Maybe this is how I can do it.

Anyway, I don't know what I'm going to write today, exactly. I have pulled up the swordfighting ms, and I renamed the file bestdamnbookever.doc. I put the old version away in a folder with the 26 other old versions (I'm not kidding; 26, and that's not including the character sketches, outlines, and assorted bits). I went back to the renamed file, hit "Select all," and then "Delete." 263 pages went to one blank page in an instant.

So, what to write? What calls to me? What sounds fun? Time to try and find out. Fingers crossed.

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