Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Jumping Off Point

"What happened to the blog?" You asked some time ago.

Relevancy Drives the Process

Besides the obvious answer (I got busy with something else), the part in the last post about revising the outline to make it more personal and relevant took sudden and almost immediate control over the story development. I know, that's a big shocker! I shrugged off writing the blog one day so I could rewrite the outline, and then I completely forgot about it.
An urgency to write about a very different outline tugged at the core of my being. Not wanting to give up the original outline, but unable to ignore the new one, I squished the outlines together like shuffling two stacks of playing cards. Then I reworked it until the pieces became cohesive. Asking a series of critical questions about how each element could fit together helped this merge. And then one day, a new, stronger creature emerged.

Writing a First Draft

Another day near the end of summer, I moved the story folder over, and I started writing. I feared the words would not come after all of that planning, and I did have to break through the crust, but it was somewhat like driving. I knew where I wanted to go (thank you, outline!) and building momentum from free-writing and then writing according to a minimum daily goal pushed me forward into the beyond. I had not forgotten how to write. That fall I joined NANOWRIMO, which pushed me further to crank out words, and, in the afterglow of NANOWRIMO, months later I nearly finished a first draft. It took a trip to the actual setting for a week to finish in a flurry of hair-pulling, tears/laughter, and OMG, it's done. Since I had granted myself that work-vacation week before I started back to a different job, I think you can guess the inevitable (I got busy). However, I did print the draft and mark up sentence-level edits during that time.

Preparing to Write the Second Draft

I set aside the first draft because of life situation, but I discovered the power of digesting the work over time. I have a fresh eye and a sensitivity to what a reader might think about the draft. I can edit with something closer to honest detachment.
And now, I once again have a little time to commit to writing fiction. There will be more to come... indeed, there will be more to come.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Lost? Or, More Outlining...

The summer brought hurdles with my boys and also within myself. After rewriting the chronological order of events--just writing it out again so it was neater and more tidy, which was a constructive exercise that yielded me a clearer image of the story--I began to seriously question whether I could write, or whether most anyone could write, in my situation as a stay at home mom with a baby and preschooler. The baby had some health issues that have taken three months, from one wellness visit to the next, for me to feel that we have him pretty much back on track. My older son needed more attention throughout this, too. Everyone needed more of everything during this time. However, today I am writing. So perhaps there is some hope or truth that while you may not always be able to write you won't never be able to write.

My personal hurdles have made me look differently at the story outline. There was a cliche in there that I think I am ready to let go. I've read some nice quotes from classic writers about writing the truth by avoiding the easy way out, e.g., not using a cliche to avoid writing about a situation that might be hard for the writer to confront and handle. But, also that the truth can be told in a variety of perspectives and contexts--that the truth is fundamental but the story is, after all, a story.

I am also considering altering the outline to make it more relevant and personal. I have many questions surrounding the direction I might go because it might conflict some with the original intent I had for this particular story. But it might also create more sparks that might get things moving more intensely.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It has been about two weeks since I knew what I had to do, and finally I more or less conquered my subconscious fear and started drafting the "falsework" or skeleton outline.

The Initial Outline

The outline is a list of bullet points of events in the story that are organized chronologically. There are several places where I'm not sure which event should happen exactly where, but I think I have a general idea of what events there might be and some of the order. This practice also brought up several key questions that need to be answered to support the storyline related to money/finances of the characters and their more in-depth motivations. I suppose this will also help form the characters.

Reviewing the Outline

I reviewed the outline with my husband, which helped me to shape some ideas and notice areas in the outline that might seem to either lag, leave a hole, be out of place, or that may be too busy. There are also a couple of ideas that I wasn't sure if they would be hokey, but most seemed to pass the suspension of disbelief or bull**** test. Interestingly enough, my older son wanted me to read the outline to him, rather than discussing the bullet items, so I read my words verbatim, including questions I had written next to the bullet points, and that also gave me another perspective on the storyline. I could more easily "hear" when the logic need support.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Researching: Setting and Plot

I'm still in the depths of two books about the setting I'm researching. The research has surprisingly spawned more foundational ideas on possible plot changes and developments. It has also spawned some day-dreams, which will ultimately help the tone of the story. I mean for the land to play a fairly heavy role in the story. Also, I went over some old free-writes on the story concept from early this year and sometime last year and found that I've circled back around with several ideas. It is a safe feeling to know that I've explored some ideas and am starting to drop tangents that won't add to, and may even clutter, the story.

My new mom-friend introduced me to another mother and said I was writing a book and it nearly knocked me down. "I'm just researching and doing a little writing," I said.

I walked out of my house today--Saturday--to go write at the local bistro. It was pretty nice and I think I will try escaping weekly if at all possible. I was edgy to get started with actual writing, partly since the pressure is mounting a little from people around me, but also to know that the words, any words, would come. I produced a very small free-write about a storm rolling in to my character's setting. The book I've been referencing, From First Draft to Finished Novel, suggested the next step is to outline every individual scene. (OMG!) Or, conversely, to start with the more simple outline I'm working towards, knowing that I will have less of the work done up front and may end up having more rework later. We'll see...there are good points to both methods and chances are I will combine the two.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Researching: Setting

I am researching the land and town that inspired the story concept and found that there had been an anthropological study of people and culture there, followed by a museum exhibition, in the early 80's (cue golden glow and singing angels). I feel that instead of guessing and dreaming up the culture there, that I can read/watch the materials prepared for public consumption and peruse through the bibliography. I even have a reason to try an inter-library loan. :) This is a great thing not just because it is nerdy entertainment, but it may lend some weight to the setting and create more value in the story. I have been thinking a little bit about value in stories or literature, together with fiction versus non-fiction (more on this some other time).

More people among friends and family have heard about this little aspiration of mine--leaked through other friends and family--and it makes me a little nervous.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Researching (2)

So I put in my two weeks and got the year of leave out of it. It wasn't easy and so it was also a taste of what it would have been like to go back to full-time work. My husband was out of town several days a week for business and I hired a temp nanny through an online service. It took a week of scrambling to interview and line up a good candidite for a nanny, and there were many people who responded, unlike several years ago when I looked for a nanny for my first son. The two weeks were tiring even with help, and at the end when there was just me and my two sons at the house, the eldest would ask me who was coming over to play with him and help him, or if he was going to daycare, or if instead he would be going to preschool. Sometimes it is a little painful to be a mom. I even wondered if perhaps I wasn't really cut out for being a full-time mom after all...! And now, there are just a few short minutes while the eldest actually sleeps during his quiet time and the baby is happy hanging out ~ and I will think about the dishes in the kitchen later ~ There is lots more research to do. I daydream a little of my husband staying home and working and caring for the boys while I travel to the location that has inspired the setting for a long weekend, or maybe even a week, or more, to study the locale. I wonder if this would be tax deductible?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Research--Inheritance Tax
Today I researched inheritance tax. There was kind of a little fiasco in 2010 with the inheritance tax rates, which might play where nicely into the plot. The research was a little interesting but also a bit dry, too. And, there are many things I don't understand about the taxes, but perhaps won't need to know much more and won't have to go into it any more deeply.

There is still more research to do on this and many more items on the short list of research...

I didn't write yesterday (or put effort towards writing), but instead worked on getting a nanny for my two-week return to work. I had a moment when I thought...hey, I could just do that for a while. But, I have to question, would I be happy doing that, am I thinking about this because it is realistic, or because I'm scared, or because I hit a bump when I realized that the amount of research needed was a lot?