Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Writing Cave

Us bloggers are super aware of our blogger positions, I think. Countless times I've read other people's apologetic posts on how they haven't been blogging for a while and how they're really sorry because they had all these plans but real life got in the way...and I read thinking, I can empathize, but I hadn't even noticed. Not until they apologized anyway.

Another super-sensitive habit of bloggers is that we sit here and think of what all our readers must be thinking. (I promised them a post on my goals. They must be wondering what's taking me so long! I'll do the post on adverbs instead. Oh geez, look at that timestamp. Now everyone will know I was lazy and did this at midnight in my pajamas. With food in my teeth. Because I got the munchies after dinner.)

Honestly? We have no idea you did that. Sounds like fun. Why didn't you invite us to join the party?

Being that I am a blogger and also very self-conscious, I know that I haven't done a New Year's post (like I planned) or any of the other five posts that I've been dying to put up. I'm also aware this has been a slow blogging year for me.

But for once, I have a good excuse as to why I haven't been blogging.

I was outlining these chapters:

This is Chpts 14-19 of MIRRORPASS.

It's the biggest problem section of my novel left to tackle.

Each colored sticky is a scene in the chapter, with brief explanations of the events. Blue notes are the main POV, orange for any other POV. I put gold stars next to the good stuff. (I don't know if you can see, but there aren't a lot of gold stars.) But that's okay, because in the white notes, I detailed everything wrong with the chapter.

The white notes all said basically the same thing: I don't have a good grip on a certain character or the motivations involved, so these chapters are all repetitive as I try to hash out why people are acting certain ways.

Now I'm brainstorming on the character and motivations before rewrites.

I was also cutting up this:

It's is my rewritten version of Chpt 11, MIRRORPASS. The middle scene is one long dialogue about 2k in length. I needed to figure out why it was all over the place. So I identified the topics discussed, highlighted them with a unique color, and then cut it up, putting all the colors in the same pile.

(This is a technique mentioned in Monica Wood's "The Pocket Muse.")

And then I organized it like this:

I tried to keep the colors together (and thus the topics discussed) which didn't work so well. At least until I started pulling out pieces that didn't fit. And writing transitions.

I also allowed myself to 'wrap' one topic in another, using one topic to frame the other. Conclusion? Dialogue and transitions are very interesting. I rearranged a lot.

But finally I got it done.
...the hardcopy version, at least.

In sum, I have been writing. Like a madwoman. Like a dark creature that emerges from it's hole only for coffee, frozen pizza, and Star Trek reruns at 11:30 each night. My family jokes about me going back to my cave where I'll disappear for hours on end.

So, dear world, I am truly and deeply sorry I haven't been blogging. With hyper-awareness I apologize for not posting the New Years Resolution post that you probably didn't notice was missing from my corner of the blogosphere. I also apologize for not putting up the final addition to my "So You're a Writer, Do You Need a Website?" series. It will go up. It will. Even if I have to post it while I'm in my jammies.

And don't worry. I'm totally neglecting my real-life responsibilities as much as my blogging ones.

Back to the writing cave,
-Creative A


Anonymous said...

Have you always done your writing organization that way? Looks like a lot of work! It must be better than my system - takes notes on legal pads and then lose the legal pads.

Creative A said...

Oh no, I only do this when I have specific problem areas that I need to tackle and I don't have a good sense of why they're problems. I laughed when you mentioned loosing legal pads. That happens to me more often than stick-it note organization!


April Plummer said...

My first thought was - you are so right! Bloggers are JUST like that even when they have as few followers as I do!

My second was - about organization! I am not an organized writer at all, but you've impressed me.

My last thought was - go you! You've got the very best excuse ever why you haven't blogged - you've been doing something much more important and writing like a madwoman!

Creative A said...

Thanks, April! Every once in a while I get a super organization streak and I scare even myself. It helps to clear the brain out, though.


Amanda said...

Those pictures give me a high. lol I can't wait to get to revisions just so I can buy a cork board and colored index cards. :D

Though the idea of using them as I go is highly intriguing….hmmm…

Creative A said...

Hey Amanda! I love stickies :) I wish I had a corkboard too--it's actually a whiteboard flipped over (the other side is covered in story notes.)


Natalie said...

I'm not an outliner, I just write what I feel then go back and edit to make it better. Currently I've been just making a separate word document on my jump drive with the timeline and characters, but I'm such a visual person, I think a white board or something would be better. Only problem is, I can't take that with me and I'm not always at home when I write.

Do you outline before you start writing or is this something you only do during editing?

Creative A said...

Hey Natalie! Thanks for commenting :)

I've heard of writers who use this same method, except they keep it in a binder, with each page being a chapter. That way it's portable. But I've never got it to work, because I need to see the whole picture at once; maybe it would work for you though?

I almost never outline beforehand, because yeah, it's something I only do rarely when editing. I much prefer brainstorming to outlining!


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