December 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm 10 comments

Though I may pants my way through the first draft I plot every detail once I’m done. I have to know what happens when, and why it happens, how does it feed into the bigger picture, and what are the baby steps that’ll get me to the final character arc, black moment, and resolution. That’s a lot to remember, especially when you don’t remember half of what you actually wrote.

Also once I get the notion in my head to REALLY revise I’m very critical of every scene, every sentence, every word. I guess that’s the process for me. I first go through the book to see if the story flows. I think to myself not a bad job, not sure what to add. Then I read it again to fix crappy wording. I think to myself not a bad book. Then I go through the ms again and plug in missing words. I think to myself well…what next?

And finally I can go back “revise”. Not that I don’t consider what I did before not revising, but it just wasn’t changing the face of the story. First I do a synopsis, but the first time around that is always a pointless venture. So I outline.

Bad picture I know, but the gist is I need to fill up all those empty slots with story details. But not too much. I want the editor/agent to get the gist of the story and not bogged down with details they can read from the story.

The Catch-22…I need to plot out the story before I can even finish plugging in the details that are important to just get the gist of the story.

I used the three act structure. The term it means breaking up my story in three distint sections. The first act is usually the set up of the story. The second act is the boggy middle. The last act is the beginning of the end of the story. I also use turning points (think of points of no return in the story.) Something has changed for my character that she’ll never be the same after it happens. They have to be signifact, but the skies don’t have to open up and you hear music. Vague details, but they let me know what was happening to my story and when.

Lastly, character notes I made during the story are extremely helpul. I usually detail what the character learns in the exact order she/he learns them.

Now as far as structure is concerned I went one step farther. At the beginning of the story Phoenix lets her friend read her tarot cards. I wrote the book with each card in mind. Justice, Five of Cups, The Lovers, Judgement, Two of Swords, Ten of Wands, Grim Reaper. Each card carries a meaning, the first card is her past, the second is her present, and the rest are the future. I can write down every scene and it’ll go under one of these categories. Actually, before I started Overworked and Underlaid I did. I didn’t need it anymore so I tossed it out. Am I now regretting it, yes, but that’s beside the point.

Now I can write the synopsis and start revising.

Who said writing is easy?


Entry filed under: plotting, revising, the process.


10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Toni Lyons  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    I love it! Thank you for showing us your strategy. I love all the details, very techinical, very indepth. I tried a method similar to yours once, but I endup with paper confetti all over my floor. I was unorganized, and I had scraps of paper everywhere, unlike you.

  • 2. Mel  |  December 2, 2007 at 12:53 am

    Writing is the only organized thing in my life. If I put a tenth of the same effort I do into all things…

  • 3. Edie  |  December 3, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    It gives me the shudders just to read all you do, lol. I’m such a pantser. I’m glad it works for you, though.

  • 4. Mel  |  December 3, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Lol, Edie. I used to have the same reaction. But the reason why I started doing all of this is that I couldn’t remember what happened for jack. I couldn’t figure out why my pacing DRRAAGGGED. Heck, I didn’t know what a turning point was and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why my characters were the same by the end of the book. I think that’s why it’s so hard to go back in revise my older books. It’s more work than the trouble to get my writing up to par.

  • 5. bettye griffin  |  December 4, 2007 at 3:55 am

    Wow. Seems like a lot of work. But if it works, keep it up!

  • 6. Mel  |  December 4, 2007 at 4:53 am

    Bettye-It is, but most of the notes I have I make while writing the novel. When I hit the first turning point I write it down and pin it to the board. When my character does something more than twice I note it. Like with Phoenix whenever she was about to start a speech or explain herself she’d start her sentences off with “Look” or “Listen”. It makes revising for character and structure easier because I know what I’m looking for to flesh out.

  • 7. Merry  |  December 4, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    For the novel(la) I’m working on for Sven, I outlined each chapter (up to chapter 10); but, I think I’ve over-stuffed the chapters because events that are half-way through the outline of chapter 3 are actually now in chapters 4 & 5 (and I’m still on the outline for ch.3!) So something went wrong somewhere.

    Maybe it would be better for me to stick things up on a wall/ board rather than in a doc. so I can see what’s happening where? (Not very portable though! I do a fair bit during breaks at work) 😀

  • 8. Mel  |  December 4, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    “(Not very portable though! I do a fair bit during breaks at work)”

    You too. I see it as free time not to be wasted.

    Anyway, one idea you can do is to get a binder label each chapter and stick post it notes on what supposed to happen in each chapter. That way when things changes on you, you don’t have to rewrite anything just move the post it note in the chapter it happens. Also it’s portatable.

  • 9. Patricia W.  |  December 5, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing your process. Sounds exhausting but it works for you. And since I’m still developing a process, maybe I can pick up a few things.

  • 10. Mel  |  December 5, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    When it comes to my writing I’m very detailed oriented. Can’t speak for anything outside of writing. Heck, I don’t even go to the store with a grocery list.

    But yeah, it does work for me. I just finished the first draft of my synopsis. I’ve got down all the important points and I’m going to go back and kill at the details. I just need to keep the GMC and the character arc.

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