Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Making Progress with Planning New Novel
Here's an update mid-week as I'm planning HARRY VS. THE TRUCK.
I revised, revised again, then completely reworked the table I use to plan steps in my outline, combining some features from a character development worksheet I had made previously, and wound up with a really nice table to use in planning chapters. I've been using it and enjoying it thoroughly. It prompts me to provide additional information (in very brief form) that helps me get into the mindset of the POV character, and see the plot more intensely from the 'inside' of a character living through it. This really helps sharpen my focus and come up with ideas.
I still base the chapter work on the 12-step outline, but now I have expanded to break down each step into multiple chapters, and am thinking in terms of goals, complications and resolutions for each chapter -- both external and internal -- as well as what the POV character learns and how he/she grows, as well as other details.
I'm really pleased with this new table and have made excellent progress in planning 12 chapters already. I'm succeeding in making this transition from "step-thinking" to "chapter-thinking". Instead of longer chapters with multiple scenes, I am breaking it down so that each chapter will consist of one master scene and not be too long. I like the idea of chapters around 2,000 words each, no shorter typically than about 1,500 words, no longer than 3,000 words, and each chapter containing one continuous scene (although there could occasionally be very short pieces on either end as transitions).
This progression into finer detail (step to chapter) is part of a larger process I am using of working from smaller to larger, from overview to detail. I start with a statement, "This is a story about a [main character] who wants/needs...." and figure out the theme, the overall major external and internal goals, and then figure out the focus of each act, then flesh that out to the 12-step outline with external and internal goals, then finally am at this point of taking the 12 steps from the outline and breaking them down into scenes that are the basis of chapters. It's a system that is working very well for me.
I am not doing anything with THE REFLECTING STONE at this time since I am wrapped up in planning the chapters for HARRY VS. THE TRUCK, and realitically this might be all I get done this week, but with the level of insight I'm getting, and the detail, and the fact that I am finally succeeding on this level in the planning stage (for all the effort on THE REFLECTING STONE, I never quite got to this level of detail in the planning for it in spite of huge amounts of work and notes), I think it's worthwhile to stick with this until it's done, which it should be within a few days. I'll want to go over it when it's done and revise, but then that's it -- I'm ready to start writing!
Sunday will conclude the planning and launch the writing of HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. If I end up dragging my feet on the editing of THE REFLECTING STONE, fitting it in where I can in smaller bits, that's fine. Once I complete the draft of HARRY, I'll simply swtich my attention full-time to THE REFLECTING STONE, as I will have had a break from it by then and will be able to bring a fresh perspective to it. So, whatever works! I'm just keeping busy and know that all my efforts are solid and making progress at this time -- I'm not wasting any time or spinning my wheels, that's for sure.