jennygordon: (Froud - Green Man)
Remember a couple of weeks back, I said that once I'd fixed a couple of things in the first half of MoulderingBook, I wanted to crack on with writing the rest, adding, "As ever, all terms and conditions are subject to change at the sniff of a writerly whim."?

Yeah, that second part.

Having fixed those couple of things over two weeks ago, I found myself still twitchy and uncertain about the story, so I've been spent the time since doing a lot of thinking about why that might be. And I've come to two main conclusions.

Firstly, the balance between the two main strands of the story isn't right. The more I've worked with one, the more I've realised I want to focus on that aspect even more, which means paring the other one right back to redress the balance.

And that led to a long thought process about which aspects of the pared-back strand I need to retain in order for the overall story to work, and how to reshape them to good effect.

The second conclusion I reached was that I haven't gone far enough down the secondary-worldbuilding road. I've said before that MoulderingBook is set in an historical time-that-never-was, with a Gothic and Steampunkish flavour, but what I've realised is that I've been hedging this aspect as I want to avoid the book becoming overly fantastical. I still do. I like my fantasy settings to have their roots firmly anchored in history, or at least in historical possibility.

So I thought some more, and from out of nowhere, the worldbuilding elements I want to work with dropped neatly into place, and opened up lots of lovely doors to possibility. It's such fun.

It all means I've got a significant amount of reworking, reordering and set-dressing to do, but I'm feeling much better about the whole thing. Much more like I'm heading in the right direction. Hurrah!
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
Has anyone else been keeping up with events around this week's reinterment of King Richard III? I've been immensely moved by the everything that's been going on, and by the care and thought that's gone into honouring our last Plantagenet king. The scale of the crowds that turned out on Sunday to watch the cortege pass through Leicester was incredible. I love the fact that one of Richard's descendants (whose DNA was key in proving Richard's identity) is a carpenter, and has made Richard's coffin. Whatever your take on Richard (and we can't ever prove absolutely whether he was responsible for the murder of the princes in the tower), it's an astonishing piece of history that's taking place right now.

Lost-and-found kings aside, I've spent the past few days tidying up MoulderingBook. I've written the new chapter I realised I needed before the mid-point. Turns out it is just the one chapter, instead of the two I suspected, as I've managed to say everything I need to at this point in a single scene. I then typed that up and decided to print out the first half of the book, so I have it readily to hand once I embark on what comes next.

And of course, once I had a printed out copy before me, I realised something I need to fix in chapter one, which has a knock-on effect in Chapter Five. It always amuses me how seeing our stories in a different format can kick-start us into recognising issues we haven't before. So anyway, I fixed that, and planned to have a session of note-making to flesh out where I go from here.

However, Life had other plans, which turned out to be very good reasons for not getting around to the note-making session. The first of those plans was a spur-of-the-moment haircut, and the second, reconnecting with a friend I lost touch with 20 years ago, And that brings me back to where I started with this post, because it was thanks to Richard III, and another spur-of-the-moment decision, that we're back in contact. I sometimes love the circularity of history.

A Gift

Mar. 21st, 2015 07:14 am
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Woman)
*Disclaimer: The gift mentioned in the title isn't one I'm about to offer you — sorry.*

And before I tell you what the gift actually is, I should explain that I'm cheating — sorry again — as I'm writing this yesterday and scheduling the post for Saturday as I don't want to double-post on Friday. (Confused? Great. Job done).

Er-hem.

So anyway, the gift. I mentioned earlier this week that I've realised I need to write a couple of new chapters/scenes before I hit the events of my mid-point, including another interaction (or two) between a couple of key characters. I've been pondering the shape of these scenes over the past few days, waiting for them to grow in my imagination, and on Thursday night as I lay in bed, they not only grew, they blossomed like the hawthorn blossoming at the end of my road.

Not only that, it turns out the gift is like a pass-the-parcel kind of gift (not the kind where none of the outer layers contain anything other than more layers; the kind that nice parents make where there's a little gift within each layer). See, these scenes emerged from the mist of my imagination with some really quite nice character development in them; particularly of the significant secondary character I was going on about a while back who I wasn't happy with. Turns out he likes drawing — who knew? No-one apparently until last night.

'So?' I hear you say, 'He likes drawing. What's the big deal?'

I suspect it's a far bigger deal than even I realised. The more I think about it, the more I can see that it's a pivotal aspect of his character, and of his character arc.

In conclusion and summary, turns out my brain-parts are continuing to work very nicely, thank you.

All I have to do now is write the scenes.
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
I've spent a good chunk of the past four days typing up the remaining chapters of MoulderingBook I'd handwritten — around 18K words in total, which takes me to the 40K overall total, which equates to more-or-less the mid-point of the book.

My fingers are now very tired.

I say it brings me more-or-less to the mid-point, because actually my mid-point should hit at 45K, which was a slight problem until my brain kicked in and I realised I need to write an extra couple of chapters prior to the mid-point so I can:

a) include another interaction between key characters, to develop their relationship and its arc, and

b) enhance my MC's strop to make it more pronounced, and hence make the contrast with what happens at the mid-point more effective.

Love it when my brain works.

I didn't do too much fiddling as I typed all that up, and I think the plan from here is to get writing, writing, writing again while the first 40K is fresh in my head. I'm feeling a need to get the story down on paper where I can see it clearly. Then I can spot where it needs work, and go back to tackle editing and rewriting further down the line.

That's the plan, anyway.

As ever, all terms and conditions are subject to change at the sniff of a writerly whim.
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)
Yesterday, I mentioned that one of the changes I've made to MoulderingBook is to introduce a ticking clock to the story arc, and [livejournal.com profile] windancer asked if I could say a bit more about it, so here I am.

So, definitions seem a good place to start. Or at least definitions as I understand them (not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs here!) In the context of a novel/film/story of any kind, a ticking clock is a writerly device that's essential to the success of the story. It's connected to, and enhances, the stakes of the story (what is at stake if the hero doesn't succeed), and provides an element of tension in the overall story arc (if the hero doesn't succeed by a certain point, X awful thing will happen). I say it's essential (and I realise there are exceptions to every rule) because without a ticking clock, a story might drift along pleasantly enough, but it lacks the element of compulsion that keeps a reader turning pages.

There are lots of kinds of ticking clock, and degrees of subtlety to which they can be employed. Some involve a literal clock — can the hero figure out how to divert the tidal wave in the 12 hours before it hits New York; Will the hero win the girl before she emigrates to Australia at the end of the month? Others are subtle and implied — will the heroine learn what caused her mother's breakdown before history repeats and she falls prey herself? Can the chocolatier win over the villagers with her confectionery before the straight-laced curate turns them all against her? Sometimes, the clock ticks away subtley over a very long time — will Pip grow up into a well-rounded young man before Miss Havisham's malign influence corrupts him?

Whether big and dramatic, or more subtle, the ticking clock serves the same purpose of setting a deadline for the main story arc, and ratcheting up the tension and urgency in the story. Often, something unexpected happens along the way to shorten the deadline further and pile on more pressure.

Now, that's all very well and good. I understand the device and recognise it in films and novels alike, but I've always been really bad at employing it to full advantage myself. I kind of forget about it. Or at least, I neglect to employ it effectively enough, which means my stories tend to just ... drift.

When I realised I was falling into the same trap with MoulderingBook, it was an important moment for me, because the story arc needs a very specific ticking clock in order to have maximum impact. The clock was already kind of present in the culmination of the story, but what I needed to do was pinpoint it and signpost it much more clearly throughout.

The specific trigger for my realisation was two-fold. Firstly, I've been re-reading Maggie Stiefvater's excellent "Shiver" trilogy, each book of which has a ticking clock that is different from the others, but which builds on those in its predecessor books. Secondly, I had a conversation with a friend about a compluter game she enjoys playing in which her character has to solve a mystery, but also — and this is what caught my interest — she has been wrongly accused of a crime to which that mystery relates, and the cops are on her trail. Can she solve the mystery and prove her innocence before the cops catch up with her? A nice ticking clock, which adds an urgency to the quest.

So, what I'm doing with MoulderingBook is seeding the ground of the first third of the story with initial 'ticks' of the clock. Then, having set my scene, I'm going to specify what my ticking clock is — X will happen if my heroine doesn't find a way to do Y before the villagers realise what's going on.

Tick tick.

So there you have it, [livejournal.com profile] windancer, for what it's worth. I hope my ramblings have been interesting/useful/at least spelled correctly. And thanks for getting my brain working; it's been fun.
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
A couple of weeks back, I hit a wall with MoulderingBook. Well, kind of a wall. And to be fair, it wasn't wholly unexpected, since I usually get stuck at a similar stage of the Exploratory Draft of all my books. It's as though, no matter how much advance planning I do, there are certain things about a story that only come clear once I'm actually writing the thing.

It's apparently part of my "process"!

After wearing my pondering hat for a while (it's purple and fluffy), I realised I might not be facing so dramatic a reworking as I initially thought (phew!), and I've spent the last few days rewriting the first 20K words.

While I thought my main issue lay with one of my significant secondary characters, it actually turns out the sticking points are more scattershot than that. So, I've:

  • tweaked with the plot, and

  • added a ticking clock to introduce a sense of urgency

  • enhanced traits in some characters, and

  • rethought some character motivations, including

  • adding a new element to my MC, which makes her more proactive

  • introduced more paranoia and Gothic-ness to the setting more widely, and

  • generally given everything a bit of a spit and polish.

It's been such fun. In fact, this is officially the Most Fun Book I've ever written. In the past, I've tended to write rather heavy, woeful tales, full of angst and anguish. While MoulderingBook certainly has its share, the entire tone of the story is different, and it's a joy to play with.

Right, onward with typing up the next 20K hand-written words, which will take me more-or-less to the half-way point of the book. Then I'll see how the view looks from those lofty heights.
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
So, here's a poser for you.

In MoulderingBook, my MC badly wants to have killed her father. I badly want her to have killed her father.

If she did kill him, it was prior to the beginning of the story, and isn't central to the story's premise or plot — although there would obviously be a ripple-effect on her if she did. She has the motivation to do so, and it's kind of understandable that she might, given her reasons and the kind of person she is. Which is to say, she's a liar and a manipulator and an all-round charismatic stinker, but do I make her a murderer as well?

After all, this is a YA book. Albeit an upper-end YA story. As I've explained before, it's a Gothic, Poe-esque story set in a historical period that never really was, with sort-of Steampunk nuances, and Addams Family undertones. It's a fun sort of nasty, dark little romp.

I think I've worked out what I'm going to do, but I'm curious to hear your views. And it doesn't matter whether you're familiar with YA fiction or not I'm still interested.

So what do you reckon? Did she, or didn't she?
jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
Hell and damnation! My story decided to become another story. Which is to say, when I sat down to write yesterday, the pieces started shifting around before my very eyes and I discovered that the story arc I envisaged at the planning stage isn't the arc the story wants anymore.

It actually took me a while to knuckle down to writing yesterday, as the ghost of stuckness was whispering at me from the outset. I'm at the Messy Middle of MoulderingBook. It's a stage I often get stuck at — a stage a lot of writers often get stuck at — and indeed, stuck I've got. I employed a few of my unsticking tools and squeezed out another 2K words, but then the sticky-stuckness caught up with me again, so I sat back for a ponder.

And that's when it came to me.

I've been uncomfortable for a while with one of my significant secondary characters.

"You want me to do what?" he keeps asking, eyeing me sceptically at every turn.

Yesterday, I think I realised why.

His actions don't need to alter significantly, but what does need to change is a key aspect of his motivation. And that has a scattershot impact on the rest of the story, which ultimately means I need to rethink the shape of the story from this point forward, and dramatically reconsider the ending.

So yes, hell and damnation!

Except it kind of isn't, because this is all part of the joy of discovery when it comes to writing. Not to mention one of the reasons why I find it so crucial to be nimble in my approach. It's also why it's impossible for me to tightly outline in advance; the nature of my brain is that the story changes and evolves as I write it and get to know the characters in a way that's impossible for me in advance.

It's kind of thrilling for the story and characters to be digging their heels in like this, as it means I've reached the point where they are strong enough to think for themselves. There are times when it's important to rein them in and remind them who's boss, but I suspect this isn't one of them. Stuckness doesn't happen without good reason, so I need to pay attention.

Once upon a long time ago, I would have given up, wailing that it's too hard.

It is hard, but MoulderingBook is fun and worth fighting for, and I'm not such a wimp these days.

What I need now is a good long brainstorming session, a flash or two of inspiration, and a nice big bar of chocolate.
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Woman)
Tricksy, slippery things, Exploratory Drafts!

When I picked up MoulderingBook on Tuesday, I had written several pages by the time I realised I was writing in first person, present tense.

So what? you ask.

Well, see, the rest of it is in first person, past tense.

I found myself wondering, if my subconscious has me writing this thing in first person, present tense — and it's so natural I don't even realise my mistake — then maybe that's because the whole story wants to be written in first person, present after all.

I tinkered with a few bits and the more I fiddled, the more convinced I grew.

Rats and double rats!

I'm going to ponder it for a while longer before doing anything drastic, and even if I do decide that I need to switch the tense, I'm not going to bother reworking the 20K I've already typed up until I come to work on the next version (i.e. once I have a complete Exploratory Draft). I must forge ahead or risk becoming mired.

It's irritating, but hey-ho, that's what Exploratory Drafts are for. It's kind of fascinating how they sometimes romp off and make their own decisions.
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
It's everso-terribly exciting.

My Mouldy-Meter currently looks like this:

IMG_3575

Which means I'm at the third-way mark!

Okay, okay, it's as drafty as a first draft can possibly be, but that's what first drafts are for. The most important thing is that I'm having such huge fun writing it.
jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
Once upon a time, I wrote fiction for adults. I'd be more specific and tell you what kind of fiction it was, only ... I can't, because my stories were always tricky to pigeonhole. Which was all well and good, as I'm adverse to pigoneholing generally in life. Except, if I wanted to be taken seriously by agents and whatnot, I needed to be able to tell them where the stories sat in terms of genre.

The genre freedom within the Young Adult market is one of the things I love about it, and one of the reasons why I now write Young Adult fiction.

'Young Adult' is, of course, an age category, not a genre in the way that 'crime', 'chicklit', 'fantasy', or 'literary' are. In fact, the entire Children's book market is subdivided by age, not genre. Which means you'll find historical novels shelved alongside horror, sitting beside high school romance, beside high fantasy. And, more importantly as far as I'm concerned, you'll find single books which offer a glorious mash-up of all four. And no-one minds.

There's always been such freedom in Young Adult fiction (and Children's fiction more widely) to throw together whatever bundles of oddness you feel like writing. It's immensely liberating for both writer and reader.

The book I'm currently reading is a good example. On the face of it, 'Cuckoo Song', by Frances Hardinge is a changeling-child story set in the 1920s, yet it's also gothic and fantastical and literary. If it was written for adults, who knows where it would be shelved, or whether it would even be published at all, or rejected as 'uncategorisable'. However, since it sits in the Young Adult age range, it has no such concerns. It can be precisely what it wants to be and still find an audience.

It's just as well, since MoulderingBook is a Gothic, Poe-esque story set in a historical period that never really was, with sort-of Steampunk nuances, and an Addams Family undertones (thanks for that contribution to the list [livejournal.com profile] readthisandweep!) Since it's for the Young Adult age range, its fluid identity doesn't matter. I'm free to simply keep writing and let it be what it wants.

I hope the Young Adult market doesn't ever feel the need to start pigeonholing by genre within itself. Long live genre freedom!
jennygordon: (Magpie)
When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was 'Charmed Life', by the late, great Diana Wynne Jones.

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/penguinarchiveproject/migrated/images/charmed-life.jpg

'Charmed Life' contained one of my favourite characters, Gwendolyn Chant, who was selfish, devious and greedy, but so entertaining and fun you couldn't help but love her. I think that book is where my fascination for such likeable-unlikeable characters took root. A few years later, the wonderful Miss Weston, my favourite English teacher, had my class write a story titled 'Antihero', and the fascination blossomed from there.

Black and white hold little interest for me when it comes to protagonists; and we all know the best characterisation — the most true to life — consists of shades of grey. For me, the most interesting of all characters are those whose grey leans towards storm-clouds and the edge of night.

I've tried before, on several occasions, to write protagonists who weren't very likeable, and who were sometimes downright rotten, but who had certain qualities that meant they were engaging nonetheless. With MoulderingBook, I find myself playing with the idea again.

As couple of my earliest notes for the book say:

"This is a story about bad people doing good things, though not necessarily for good reasons."

and:

"The heroes are antiheroes, yet you root for them all the same."

It's a challenge, but one I'm enjoying immensely. I rememeber something Sebastian Faulkes said in a documentary a while back: "It's more important that a hero has vigour than virtue." His example was Thackeray's Becky Sharp. Me? My touchstone for the MC in MoulderingBook is Gwendolyn Chant.

And the delicious, decadent, deadly* family at the heart of my story? Well, I have no excuse for them other than my warped and twisty imagination.


(*apologies for the frivolous alliteration).
jennygordon: (Water Lily)
Why three things? Well, because I've just has such a great weekend, there's simply so much to talk about.

So:

1. I love my local library. My home town has such a fantastic library service that when I dropped into the local branch on Saturday, in 10 minutes flat, I found eight books to borrow and two more to buy in their 10p sale. The majority of those books are from the Young Adult shelves, as it's time I got back to reading the new releases and popular sellers out there, to update my knowledge of the current market.

2. I realised I haven't baked since moving into my current home, so I decided to find out if the oven knows how to. Turns out it does. I made teabread using rosehip tea. (Rosehips are full of vitamin C, so I could convince myself the big slab I had with my afternoon tea was good for me!)

3. Once my chores were done, I settled down at my PC in my sun-bathed study and typed up 5K more of the handwritten words of MoulderingBook, which was a record for one day's session. It only leaves a couple more thousand to type up, then I can return to writing new stuff.

So, the job for today is to tackle the final couple of thousand and then to find my way back into the story before this headache I can feel brewing kicks in.
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
... or maybe not so funny, depending, is that when you pause for a moment to revisit the 20K words you have down so far, all your delusions about how wonderful it is look at you with a jaded eye.

Yeah, despite what I told some of you last week, found myself oddly lacking in enthusiasm for writing fresh stuff over the weekend, so decided that I could at least make a start on typing up the existing 20K of MoulderingBook. (I did also write a couple of thousand fresh words onwards from the 20K). I made good progress, and typed up about 7K of the existing stuff, without getting too bogged down with fiddling. But somewhere along the way, the dratted Rampaging Doubts decided to pay a visit.

"This is tedious twaddle," they grumbled. "Jeez, would you stop repeating those three particular words; don't you have a vocabulary?!"

Is the beginning too slow? I wondered. Is this all really dull after all? Who on earth would want to read this crap anyway? Why am I wasting my time here? Who am I kidding?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not seeking comfort or reasurance. I know these feelings are par for the course; every Writer High is liberally interspersed with generous dollops of Writer Lows. But isn't it just so frustrating that those Rampaging Doubts insist on coming round uninvited like this?

Come lunchtime Sunday, I decided, to hell with it. I'm going to use the rest of my weekend for something less depressing instead. So I stripped the bark form a hawthorn bough (you'll find out why when that particular project is finished), watched some episodes of 'Sex and the City' on DVD, and drank hot chocolate.

And that's fine. See, one of the many lessons I've learned in recent years is that it's important for me to give myself permission NOT to write sometimes. It's easy to allow writing to swallow my free time and energy, and is has done so for long periods in the past, and that wasn't good for me.

I need balance and variety in my life. I need to read, write, walk in green spaces, spend time with other creative projects, and spend time doing nothing creative whatsoever. All work and no play makes Jenny a dull girl ...

.... hang on, isn't that a variation on a quote about a writer who becomes possessed by malign spirits ...?

Hmmm ....
jennygordon: (Froud)
As I mentioned the other day, I've reached Act II in MoulderingBook. (I'm using Blake Snyder's Save the Cat structure for this book, and it's working nicely so far). Act II ("The main character makes a choice and the journey begins; a strong, definite change of playing field",) puts me at the point where I introduce the 'B Story' ("Often the 'love' story; gives us a break from the tension of the A story; carries theme of story; often uses new 'funhouse' version of characters.")

What with reaching the 20K word mark, and the end of my current sparkly purple notebook, I find myself facing the conundrum of whether this is a good point at which to stop and type up what I've written.

Hmmm.

There are pros and cons.

Pros:

1. I'm starting to get a little paranoid that sparkly purple is the only version of the story I have (you can't save a hand-written draft to a datastick!)

2. This might be a good point to revisit what I've written so far, to pick up on threads I might have forgotten about, and polish the text a little.

3. It'll be a whole lot easier to use the 'Find' version in WORD than flicking through endless handwritten pages next time I want to check how many piglets Master Doubleday's prize sow has.

Cons:

1. I may well be falling into the trap of miring myself in endlessly working the first 20K words, as opposed to making forward progress.

2. There isn't a 2. or a 3. Number 1 covers the entirely of the Cons.

As I said — hmmm — It's a tricky one. So tricky in fact that rather than make a decision about it yesterday, I decided to read some Joanne Harris short stories instead. Procrastinating? Moi?
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)
Yesterday, I reached the 20K words stage of MoulderingBook. I also reached the end of the sparkly purple notebook I'm currently writing it in. I wallowed in the satisfaction of flicking through page after page of my words, re-reading some here and there, and I smiled and smiled and smiled.

I thought of the oft-cited Neil Gaiman quote, "Writing is flying in dreams. When you remember. When you can. When it works."

And then I remembered that it was only two months ago that I was tiptoeing fearfully back into my writing journey after an enforced year-long absence, and wondering if I still could.

I look at that sparkly purple notebook, full to the brim with my new story, and I know that I can.

I am complete once more.
jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
Yep, it's true. Over the past few weeks, I've been dead disciplined and have stuck to my vow not to embark on writing the new version of MoulderingBook before I have a comprehensive Story Plan (the term I like to use to describe a document which incorporates my Plot Outline, character and setting notes, and other related ephemera). It's twenty close-typed page long, and feels like a sturdy roadmap.

I reached the point where I was itching to get writing, but I forced myself to pause and consider whether it really was time, or if I was falling into my old bad habit of racing ahead too soon. The Story Plan was in good shape, with only a couple of sections at the end looking rather thin, which I reckon is okay, as some things only become clear once you're travelled the journey with your characters. And then my MC decided to get very chatty, and made my decision for me.

So, a couple of days ago, I sat down in my Nook with my pen and sparkly purple notebook (crucial piece of equipment), and began.

Yesterday, I wrote for almost five hours, and by then my fingers were so sore I could barely hold the pen.

I now have almost six thousand words. I'm rather pleased with them. I'd been trying to figure out my MC's voice, but it seems she's found it herself, and I think it's spot on. Of course, a critical eye might tell me it's all Giant Pants, which is why I'm keeping it all to myself for now.

New Year, New Moon, New Start. It makes me very happy indeed.
jennygordon: (Skywatcher)
After a busy few days, I'm a bit flumped today, so this is just a fly-by post to rejoice in what I've achieved with MoulderingBook over the past two days.

Taking on board all the advice you guys so kindly shared with me last week (*group hug*), along with the 'key' [livejournal.com profile] readthisandweep donated to the cause (*blows kisses*), I wrote and wrote and wrote reams of notes in my notebook. Wrote, in fact, until I was so excited by the new path I see before me for MoulderingBook that I had to spend some time at my computer translating those notes into some sort of shape.

So, I now have thirteen close-typed pages of what I'm thinking of as 'My Story Plan'.

This is nothing new in terms of 'process'; I often begin a project with a bundle of notes like this. What is new is what I'll be doing next.

What I won't be doing is dashing off on a wave of enthusiasm to begin writing the story in its new shape.

Instead, I shall be returning to my notes and brainstorming lots more. Filling in the gaps in the plot; fleshing out existing plot points; thinking about character, and all in all, DOING MORE at this stage before the actual writing begins.

(It's useful for me to set it out like that as it helps get it into my brain that I'M NOT STARTING TO WRITE THE STORY YET!) Er-hem.

Thanks for listening (and sorry about the shouting!)
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)
Two things:

1. I'm an idiot, and
2. I love LJ

Why? On October 31st , we had a really useful conversation here on LJ about how I was going to overcome my writing fears after a long writing absence. At the end of the conversation, I decided my best approach to the fledgeling MoulderingBook, and to tackling my lost writing confidence, was to simply freewrite for a while. I also decided I might try working up a full outline for this book. I've only really outlined in part for previous projects, and for a number of reasons, I realised I might be doing myself several favours if I tried out the full-outline approach.

15K words and a month down the line, I'd forgotten that plan, and found myself in the pickle I told you about the other day.

And that's why I love LJ (one of many reasons, in fact). Because the record of this conversation on LJ preserved what my brain hadn't, and reminded me of my intentions.

Essentially, I can now reassure myself that the 15K words — mis-step and need to rework and all — are just a freewriting exercise that's served its purpose: I've put the Procrastination Pixies and Rampaging Ogres of Doubt back in their box and I'm writing again. Hurrah! Now it's time to head back to planning and persuade the story into a proper shape.

Maybe I'm just playing games with my inner Writer Jenny to make myself feel better, but hey, what does it hurt?

Which brings me to a few questions:

In the past, I have outlined to a degree, but have never worked up a full and lengthy outline in the way that some writers do. I think full-outlining is something I'd like to try and I wondered if those of you out there who do produce full outlines have any tips to offer on how to approach it. How long do your full outlines run? How much detail is in them?

The main thing that has put me off full outlines in the past is that the only time I attempted one, it killed the story for me, as it felt like I'd already written it, and all enthusiasm and creative delight vanished. How do you get past this?

Any and all advice welcome (thanks).
jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
I think I've taken a wrong turn in MoulderingBook (formerly known as AutumnBook).

I found myself too early to depart for work yesterday morning, so I plunked myself down on the stairs and used the spare ten minutes to think about MoulderingBook, and the next scene I would be writing. I'd been feeling a little squirmy about it, the way I do when something's not quite right, and I realised as I sat there on the stairs that I may have mis-stepped.

Um ... quite significantly.

The problem has to do with the focus of the book, I think. I'm around 18K into an envisaged 90K story, and I've yet to introduce a key element (a particular house and its family). Which is fine to an extent, because that house and the family are the mystery the MC has to encounter, become involved in, and then solve, and there's ground to lay before she arrives at that point. Hence the 18K words to date have been concerned with the MC's arrival in the nearby village, and discovery of 'something weird' about the place, and introduction of significant village characters.

Part of my plan was that she would befriend a group of local youths, who would tell her what the older generation are too afraid to speak of, which will lead to her entering the Main Mystery Story.

However. Hmm. However.

I'm now wondering if I should shift my focus and concentrate less on the MC befriending the local youths, and devote more space, and from an earlier stage, to the significant house and its family. Also, there are a goodly number of members of that family, and I don't want to overburden my story with lots more characters if the local youths would be better relegated to more secondary roles.

The more I think about it, the more it feels like I'm right. Moreover, I can't just write forward from this point, merrily pretending all is well and that I'll fix it in the next pass, because my brain doesn't work like that. Besides, the alteration in focus is too significant.

Which means ... yep ... rewriting those 18K words at this stage.

Rats!

I find comfort in the fact that I'm not alone. Maggie Stiefvater refers to the 10-15K words stretch as "The Slow Realisation that You Did Indeed Write Crap Phase". I'm not feeling that my 15K words are crap, or not entirely at least. However, I think I'm at what Maggie calls "The Rematch Phase", which is to say the point at which I need to revisit, rework and rearrange the first 0-15K words.

Yeah, I think I'm due a rematch.

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jennygordon

January 2016

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