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02 December 2012 @ 09:30 pm
My final word tally: 17,000 and change. Which doesn't include the leaps I made in planning, both in substance (notes, detailed brainstorming) and getting the best ever handle on my writing process. As I mentioned, just forging onward doesn't work well for the narrative I'm going for. Instead I need a somewhat iterative combination of the following:

  • Decide on the overall development of a plot or character arc - main points, where it might lead afterward, implications, thematic aspects, etc.

  • Consider how to show it in scenes. Sketch scenes in as much detail as you need. If I'm lucky, they jump into my head all at once. Otherwise, I need to hammer at them by brainstorming about the intended feel, finer points of content, and dialog hooks - which help me conceptualize tone and character chemistry, even if I don't use them all as originally conceived. If I'm struggling with an opener or ending, I brainstorm it separately, and perhaps alter or redo the scene to fit.

  • Save every dialog snippet and scene idea that comes to mind, even if you don't have an intended home for it. If you're ever stuck, go through the list for inspiration.

  • Lay out your scenes and notes on events that haven't yet been sketched out thusly. Is the pacing too rushed? Think about what other conflicts are going on - whether strongly pertinent to a main plot thread, tangential, or worth including to reinforce a theme, add depth and nuance, etc. Is the pacing too bogged down? Think about what could be cut or compressed - for instance, development might be better incorporated as exposition instead of shown in a scene. (Though you might not want to get too cut-happy before your rough draft is even done. If in doubt, make a scene and deal with the streamlining afterward.)

  • When you have a compelling scene concept, write it out. This is where the Just Write Crap concept can help. Sometimes your first whack at prose will fall flat on its ass, but you can't improve it if you're afraid to try in the first place.

My outline has begun to split itself into acts separated by time, which is helping me organize those main points and build out the requisite subplots around them. There's the initial challenge, the delicious optimism, swimming in the proverbial money pit, and subsequent danger and resolution. Act 1 is mostly planned into scenes, Act 2 is getting there, the last act is vague but has a known general outcome, and the rest is main points that need to be nestled among that subplotty awesomesauce. And this provides some metric of rough draft progress far more meaningful than raw word count, even if I don't yet know how many scenes I'll need. At least I feel like I'm going somewhere substantial and sustainable.
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Current Music: Shuttle - Halo (Featuring Isom Innis)
quufer on December 4th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)
AAAAAAAA+++++ Would read again
The Heavy Metal Matador: Kuribo's Shoerydain on December 4th, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)
Thanks - glad to entertain and/or inform! I've had people express curiosity about my writing process, and I wanted to give some idea of what the work actually entails. I also wanted to figure out progress metrics for the benefit of those who want to read this thing eventually, and to set goals for myself as well - like $REASONABLE_WORD_COUNT or 1-2 scenes a week.

How have you been enjoying The Wire? I keep getting the itch to rewatch it yet again instead of continuing through my Quality Media Backlog.
quufer on December 5th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
I did actually finish The Wire - thanks for recommending it! I liked the change in focus each season, but also how it didn't seem forced. There were 3 episodes in Season 5 that wouldn't read off the DVDs, so I can't say as much about that season, but I found it interesting how they decided to subvert our "heroes" up that point by making them (even moreso) part of the problem. I really liked Seasons 1 and 2; Seasons 3 and 4 were more hit-and-miss for me (though the good parts were *really* good). I might like them more upon re-watching now that I know how they fit into the larger picture. Definitely an excellent series.
The Heavy Metal Matador: Cao Ren Sunsetrydain on December 7th, 2012 04:41 am (UTC)
You're very welcome! I'm always happy to get more people into this fantastic show. It still comes up as a random topic of lunchtime media analysis although I originally watched it last year.

Seasons 1 and 2 were my favorites as well. I especially enjoyed 2 because Frank Sobotka was a decent man screwed into a corner trying to protect his union. I like when I can sympathize with both sides in some way, even when the narrative has a clear protagonist, and be satisfied as long as said narrative is well done and logical. The ending was despondent and infuriating, but it fit the season's theme and tone, and exemplified the systemic illnesses focused on by the show.

An issue I had with the later seasons is that Marlo and pals weren't nearly as interesting as the Barksdale organization. The Barksdales had a wide range of personalities and related interplay and intrigue. The potential success of Stringer's plans was more about Stringer and Avon themselves than the procedure behind the business deals. Marlo is basically chaotic evil, the end. His development was mostly about specifics of his shrewdness and how much worse he would get in pursuit of total control. He's a believable character chillingly portrayed, but my main interest in him was rooting for his downfall, which stretched pretty thin over 2+ seasons.