A few folks have asked me about my writing process. Would you like a look under the hood? I thought I’d share a little of how my creative project is ticking along. The process is organic. I’m trying new things, as I go. If it works, I do it more. If it fails, it withers. I also continue to read and listen to a lot of successful writers and take their advice to heart. Part of the journey is exploring a variety of writing and publishing tools. I thus make time for learning and study along the way.
I am a plotter. I’ve outlined my book in ten parts. Each of the parts has a focused narrative purpose as follows.
- Inciting Incident: Create a hook.
- Story Question: Establish the protagonist’s motivation.
- Opposition: Protagonist becomes aware of opposition.
- Theme Reinforced: A mentor, teacher, or close family member reinforces the theme.
- Midpoint: New information shifts the protagonist from reactive to proactive.
- Opposition Strikes: Protagonist becomes aware of antagonist.
- Ramp Up: New information leads the protagonist to the point of no return.
- Black Moment: Antagonist dashes protagonist’s goals.
- Resolution: Protagonist escapes black moment.
- Wrap Up: Tie up loose ends. Finalize story or setup sequel.
I didn’t invent this list. Nor can I attribute it to one source. This is a compilation of dozens of books I’ve read on craft. I’ve cobbled together what I thought would work best for me and my story. Each part contains three scenes. I don’t want to call the ten parts chapters. Each of the three scenes in a part can stand alone. They are more like short stories which flow from one to the next. In fact, I designed them this way. My marketing plan it to release the scenes in some serial way when I promote the book. Scenes range from 1,200-3,000 words. Ok, I may have one that 5,000+ that needs some editing. Length depends on scene needs. The sum of the three scenes together must address the focus of that part as described above.
I start a new scene by crafting a bulleted list. Each scene’s index card holds a list of ten sequential items. The list is rough and not in complete sentences. I use the list as guidance, so the train doesn’t go off the rails.
I’ve left some holes along the way. I’ve rearranged. I’ve deleted entire scenes and started over. An entire part is in the wrong place and needs a rewrite to adjust its sequence. I’ll get there. My target full length book is 40,000-50,000 words. If it’s a little longer that’s fine too.
I try to write at least 500 words per day. Once I get going, I usually can hit 1,000 if it’s not a crazy day. When I finish the rough draft, I will need to spend some time doing rewrites. That effort will add foreshadowing and coherent plot points. When I get to the end, I’ll start the next book. The finished project will be a trilogy. If I can get all three books in the bag in 2017, that would rock. But I’m not beating myself up with unrealistic goals.
Let me know about your process. Share your tips! I could use a few.