Thursday, March 21, 2013

As the Gears Turn...

I'm a meticulous planner. This is in reference to all aspects of my life, however mostly so when it comes to my writing.

I struggled with deciding on a blog topic for today, but I'm settling for revealing my personal writing process because it's one of those things that I'm so deeply curious about when it comes to other people.

If you follow a lot of writers on Twitter you'll notice many mention their daily word count with pride. In a way I envy these people - I'm a planner, but not in that way.

Honestly, I didn't even know the official word count of my MS until I sent the full to the agent who requested it. (I know, I know - slap my hand - "Bad Writer!")

Son of Stephen King, and storytelling powerhouse, Joe Hill, The absolutely fantastic Melanie Conklin, the hilarious Rick Lipman, and others tweet their word count accomplishments with pride - and I typically encourage or silently applaud them because they write in a way that I never could.

When I sat down to write what became my MS, and as I plan it's brother and sister manuscripts I do a chapter by chapter outline.

See, I'm a rather intense person. I want you to know EVERYTHING! Right Now. I want to tell you everything that I know about these characters and this world immediately.

So I have to plan my reveals. It works something similar to this in my head:

"In chapter one we need a good introduction to the girls. We need to know that they're adopted, that their parents love them, that they are normal, safe, and happy, but ____ happens and leads us to...

"Chapter two. In which the girls meet ____ who will have more significance in book ____ but we need to make sure we mention ____."

So on and so forth until I have enough chapters that tell the story that needs to be told.

Then when I actually sit down, I don't even consider word count. I write one chapter at a time. When I sit down to write I will get from point A to point B by the time I leave my computer - guaranteed.

Which proves frustrating some days, because I know exactly what needs to be revealed or take place, but I have no first line to the chapter. (Yes, I plan the first line to each chapter before writing it) or I get to a point where I'm fighting what can and cannot be revealed at this point (my world is big and some details would either be extraneous or hint too much towards a twist that isn't projected to come for two, three, or four more books)

So a chapter at a time. Per day of writing. Which you would think "Oh he finished this book in 19 days." much as I would love to, I don't write every day...I plan to sometimes, but it just doesn't happen. There are those elusive lines, pondering what to reveal about certain characters, etc.... See, I can't sit and write.
 I pace to think, I have to be motion for my brain to be in motion. So I have to pace around our tiny apartment (which bothers L when he's off work) and compose the entire chapter in my head then I can sit down with all the words in my head and write them down.

I notice that people have writing playlists as well. I can't do that. My brain is too easily distracted. Music with lyrics causes me to type the lyrics that I hear, and if it's instrumental music I tend to use a lot more exclamation points if the rhythm is exciting, and I use far too many commas if the music is slow and steady.
But I do edit with music. I'm focused on the rhythm in the music, and it paces the reading. If I come to a point where the pace of the story and the music are incongruous then I re-read what didn't jive, then I edit/revise/delete based on what best serves the writing.

All in all, I began writing my MS two days after having the idea, November 15, 2011. I finished my last (seventh) revision last week, and I have chapter outlines for two and half of the subsequent books; with the overall story arc for the series planned. I haven't started writing the brother and sister books because I know inevitably some things will change during the professional editing process...there's no point in getting ahead of ourselves.

What is your process? Is it word-count based? Storytelling based? Are you a meticulous planner of each chapter and sentence, or do you free-form write?

Until we meet again....

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