A Mix of Methods

Hello, Readers! Happy Valentine’s Day for some or happy single awareness for others as my daughters put it.

As most of you know I’ve been exploring and trying to find myself. That does include my writing career that has been on the brink of me quitting for a long time now. It’s taken me a lot of soul searching and adjusting my mental processes to finally get to a point where I’m changing on so many levels.

As for on the writing gear, I’ve been searching for where I thought I belonged. Thriller first, then horror, and even a spackling of fantasy and romance. I finished a thriller which wasn’t my best work and my horrors have gradually gotten better the more I’ve worked on them. Romance writing…well, I can come up with plenty of ideas for them, but execution still hasn’t happened fully. I get a few chapters in and quit. I’m not sure completing one will ever happen for me, but I’ll keep putzing with them in my spare time.

As for my fantasy writing. I finished a large one last year, but then I tucked it in a drawer and left it there. I’ve pulled it out the last few months and have begun the work on fixing it, but in reality, it needs a second draft rewrite. Not because it is that bad, but simply to strengthen the parts that need it. I’m completely okay with doing the work. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it.

In the meantime, while I’m working on marking up the places that need the most work and gathering all the pieces I need, I’ve begun work on another fantasy novel. I’m in love with it. It’s something that has been floating around in my mind for awhile.

Now, over the years I have to admit to trying so many varieties of outlining, plotting, all of it. First, let me explain the difference for me between plotting and outlining. I use a plotting phase to get down the overview for the main plot line and the various subplots within it. It isn’t something I do with a lot of detail, but enough to know where it begins and the overview of it. After that, I move into outlining stage.

I’ve gone for variations between no outline, to scene by scene, to beat within a scene, to major plot points….you name it, I’ve probably tried that method. None seem to work for me on a consistent basis.

After some time I’ve found a newer method, which is pulling out a notebook and pretty much brain dumping every ounce of information I can about the book that I know or figure out. It’ll include research pieces, ideas on character or chapters – pretty much anything and everything I can think of. By including it all in one notebook I’ll have it all in one place.

As this is also an old project I have to admit that this one will have a couple of notebooks. One I’ll be able to use as a series bible because it contains character information, locations and such. I was so much more prepared to write this novel then I originally thought when I sat down to work on it two days ago.

Anyway, so after the word vomit, I apply some organization to it all by giving quick chapter locations or some sort of brief description and trying to organize them into an order of appearance. I can only get six or seven chapters in before I’ll need to work on writing those before continuing onto the chapter organization. Most know that particular method as headlight outlining.

So now we have brain dumping, mixed with headlight outlining. Once I know the chapter to be working on I figure out the magical cookie. Some of you might be saying what. A magical cookie is something I learned from Susan Dennard. It’ll be something I’m really excited to write about. I will also follow her rule that if she can’t find one, that chapter doesn’t belong in her novel. If you want to learn more about those, I included the link above.

Also, by her methods, once I have the magical cookie, I’ll use the same notebook to write a dirty script of that chapter. No, I don’t mean R rated stuff. I mean a quick and brief description of the chapter from conversations I imagine happening to brief interactions from the characters. Once I have that down, then I jump on the computer and flesh it all out, one chapter at a time. This method is not my own, but again, rather Susan Dennard’s.

That is the method that is working marvelously for me and I’m managing to really get a lot of work completed this way. While some of the techniques will take me a bit longer to get used to doing, mainly to really form them to my benefit, I have to admit to being much more productive than I have been in a long time.

It is the method I will be using to work on Dragon Bond’s second draft and get it ready for release as well. Eventually, I will work my way up to releasing two novels a year or more.

Now, time to get back to work. I can’t wait to finish these chapters in my head. Until then, remember to L.O.L. (Live it, Own it, Love it) or it isn’t worth doing.

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