Welcome back to wordcount Wednesdays. I am a firm believer that we should try methods out to see what works for us and what doesn’t, but I don’t believe that we should take everything we read on blogs and the internet as word of law either.
That was a large mistake for me when I first started out writing. I finished my first novel with largely no idea what I was doing. There was no real concept of plot floating in my head or structure or storylines. None of it. I just knew I wanted to get lost in this world and tell it. Like most amateur writers I also had no idea how bad it was. I was sure I’d written the next greatest thing. Wow, how wrong I was. I’ll be the first to admit that the story was flawed in many ways, while even with strong characters it still lacked on so many fronts.
This is why everyone will tell you that while you feel your first novel is amazing, there is a good chance it is a horrible catastrophe of monumental proportions. That being said, that doesn’t mean it can’t improve and you can’t either. You’ll learn the beginning steps of editing with the novel and wet your feet in so many areas with that first novel.
After my first ‘golden novel’ flopped so terribly, I went through a horrible time of wanting to write again. How could nobody see how impressive my skills were? Oh yeah, I had grand delusions at first. Over the course of years, I have read so many blogs, books and learned many different techniques of plotting.
From the Magnificent Seven Plot Points to a three-act structure to even Hero’s Journey plotting. You name it and I’ve probably tried it. Some worked for me a little bit, some worked a lot and others…well, I learned a new method, but that was about it. I’ve studied plotting in so many ways that I’ve driven myself mad at times with all the knowledge.
Still, each method learned went into my Writer’s Toolbox for me to pull out and use at a later date if needed. Right now, I have to admit that I’ve been using a different method altogether. One that allows me to pants or headlight plot and still keeps on track with the story that I’m working on.
I generally know six chapters in at a time and have an overview of where I’m going with each chapter. However, I don’t sit down to figure out that chapter until I’m on it. Let me explain. I first read about this method on Susan Dennard’s blog.
I take a notebook and dedicate it to the novel at hand that I’m working on. I spend quite a bit of time jotting down anything and everything that comes to my mind about the novel until I feel like I have a great enough start to begin actually writing. I also skip a lot of pages after that point in case I need to go back to work out other pieces as well, or if things come to me while I’m writing. After that, I scribble down the chapters I know and put them in order.
Once I have all of that, I find the magical cookies or the part that I’m most excited to write in that chapter and then I dirty script the chapter with a grand overview of that chapter in the notebook. After all of that, I’m ready to quickly take down the chapter. Sometimes it takes me two days to finish the chapter, but I can easily pick it up the second day as I left off in the middle of it. Once done with that chapter I find the magical cookie for the next chapter and dirty script it, and again write.
I have found that using Susan Dennard’s method has saved me a great deal of time when it comes to sitting down to actually write. I can leave a book for a few days and be able to pick it back up where I was. While, I’ll admit I don’t recommend leaving your book for any real length of time, at least this way I know when life does get in my way, I know where I’m going. It has saved me a great deal of time to work this way, even now when I’ve had too much time away from my writing lately.
Next week I will go over my series bible that I’ve created and how it helps me keep things in one place instead of spread over so many other notebooks.
Until next time remember to L.O.L. (Live it, Own it, Love it) or it isn’t worth doing.