Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Planning Heaven

Yes, the view is great ... I'm in Planning Heaven and enjoying every moment of it!

How did I get here?

A lot of hard work, to be sure. But that didn't put me off! Quite the contrary. I love working hard when there's a purpose to it and when it makes a difference.

Here's what I've been up to since my last post....

First, I finished reworking the plot of my current WIP, which was originally constructed according to the Marshall Plan. I felt the need to tweak things a bit as I discovered more connections between scenes across the novel, and why various scenes were important. I added a few extra scenes to more fully develop certain subplots and even cut a few scenes when I found I could put their story business into other scenes. I kept the initial, pivotal and final scenes in the proper order according to the Marshall Plan, but now have a few additional scenes in the "between-spaces" beyond what I anticipated, based on intended word count (those familiar with the plan will know what I mean).

Then, I carried a piece of paper around with me for a week. That may not sound like such a great accomplishment in itself, but there's more to it! On the paper was a simple table with four columns for the four quarters of the story. Running down each column was a short description or title for each scene in that portion of the story. In other words, I had an overview of the novel that I could whip out and study at any convenient moment. I spent time just staring at that paper and imagining relevant details for each scene, such as "goal-conflict-failure-next goal" or "emotional-rational-decision", key snippets of dialog, and details of setting or mood or character development, etc. I internalized the story by using my imagination and reinforcing my story knowledge by remembering things, and checking my notes later when I found I couldn't remember something. The result: I know this story forward, backward, and in every other way that's fit and proper to mention.

Next, I spent the past couple of weeks creating a detailed storyboard, something I've attempted before, but never to this extent. I created a digital presentation of the story, about 400 slides with images and brief text summarizing the scenes (a few slides per scene). This gives me a visual sense of the story. Watching the presentation as a slide show allows me to read the story (in "tell" mode) and gain an overview of how well it fits together, where the highs and lows are, whether it makes sense, whether it builds suspense, etc. I had a lot of fun putting it together and it has helped enormously with putting a face to the story (actually, many faces, and locations, objects, etc.).

Currently I'm in the final phase of my expanded planning efort: I'm entering the scene data into yWriter5, which I'll use to compose the first draft. As part of this work, I'll write the final scene descriptions and also add notes of key ideas to include at key moments to help in setting up later events. I hope to have this work completed between now and this weekend but I may choose to spend one additional week on the planning in order to more fully capture those all-important little notes.

Thusly, and in such a manner, I should start the first draft either by the end of this weekend, or by the following weekend. I plan to allow about 10 weeks for that. I also plan to write this one OUT OF SEQUENCE, something I've never tried before. With such extensive planning, I feel this is worth trying for several reasons. I'll blog about that next time!

Best wishes for reaching your own Planning Heaven,


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