Counting Down the Plot Cards

I got to work on my revision project for a while, and I wound up putting everything in order, or close to it. That makes the whole thing seem a lot more complete than it has in the past. (Previous Organization: Main Plot and Sub-Plot neatly separated so I can make sure everything’s there. Current Organization: Chronological.) It also makes me feel a whole lot closer to the word-count of doom. You know… that moment when you go over anything remotely resembling marketable, and you have to go back and fix it (again) before you can even think about selling it?

I have color-coded plot cards, and I’m moving into the word count warnings.

When I run out of cards entirely, I’ve hit too big and clumsy.

Right now, I’m envisioning virtually every card I have left going toward the development of the relationship between main characters and why the two planets cannot exist without each other.

Every time I start a new project, I am convinced that I’m going to plot in a neat, orderly way, and not write a whole bunch of material that I don’t really need. I’m convinced that I’m going to make out plot cards as I go along, and stay focused.

And it never seems to happen that way. Part of it is my mind skipping from place to place as I settle into a new story. Part of it is probably just laziness and disorganization. I don’t necessarily have a plot thought through at the beginning, but keeping track would sure be able to cut down on the revision time. And the writing time.

I think writing by hand tends to keep me a little more focused than writing on the computer. Or maybe, I just throw things away in a more expedient fashion when I’m writing by hand. Let’s just rip that out of our notebook and throw it away. It didn’t go anywhere. (And on a computer, I just press save.)

So, right now, I’m playing with a couple of ideas for my next project. One of them involves robots, and the other involves space ships, and long-term space travel. I only have a couple of characters, and maybe a scene or two for each one.

What do you think?

The Weather Outside is… Well, Writing Weather.

I’m in a winter weather advisory right this minute. Which is a fancy way of saying “It’s Cold.” How cold is it? Exactly cold enough that somewhere, some city person noticed, and typed it into his computer. That’s what makes a little red triangle pop up on my tablet. It is not, in fact, actually cold-cold. You can tell this, because there are currently no farmers complaining about having to collect their cows with a skip loader.

No snow, yet. Just cold.

Between the weather and the rabid shopping season, I’m delighted to be able to have things delivered to my door. And I’m really shocked at how excited I am to have a new calendar on its way. It’s a red one.

I spent most of today working on my revision.

That means I got into the original, un-organized jungle of first draft and looked for pieces that I can sort into Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of my novel. And the **ahem** “save for later” file, which usually winds up being the “throw in the trash later” file.

I recently came to the conclusion that I can squish my whole, 250k plus draft into ONE long-ish, but still viable book. Today, I am sorting, and trying to make the manuscript, itself, believe that.

I’m making progress. I have an outline. I have a plan. I have… a potential avalanche of pages that aren’t going to make it into the final cut.

Oh, well.

From Pants to Plot–Aiming For a Cleaner Draft

I’m not much for plotting. More of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl.

Actually, if you see me plotting–and especially if you see me jotting down my characters’ brand of toenail polish– just go ahead and hire an exorcist. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a supernatural ability, and I’ve never really wrapped my head around it.

I start plotting, and everything just stops. There’s a plot. Maybe I get as far as a to-do list. But checking off scenes doesn’t really work for me. I don’t wind up with finished novels like that. Just a lot of first chapters.

When I don’t plot, things work better. I get to the end, eventually. And then, I revise.

Revision takes me a long, long time. After all, the manuscripts aren’t always in chronological order, and pieces can be missing. And that subplot that seemed so brilliant? Well… let’s just say that could be a novel of its own.

So, right now, I’m staring at more manuscript than I will ever need, and wondering if there isn’t a better way to do this pants thing.

Something that would make revision a little smoother, at least.

I’m not suggesting that I’m going to give plotting another try. That was a disaster. But some kind of plan to produce a smoother rough draft and make the revision go more smoothly? I could be into that.

The places I can see changing right now are:

  1. Better use of My software. Things get labeled appropriately as soon as I’m finished writing them. They have real chapter names. They have descriptions. They are arranged in something resembling chronological order.
  2. More focus on writing scenes in the order they happen, rather than the order they show up in. I have no idea how to do that. But, it would be really nice to have a neat orderly manuscript going into revision.
  3. Filling out plot cards as I go, rather than waiting until the end, and keeping them in order, at least.
  4. Plot grid! Well, it’s worked for me before… when I happen to do it.

And the thing that needs to go back to the way it was is the daily word count. I thought about dropping it, based on the fact that I can’t revise as fast as I write, but the last year hasn’t produced the results I want. I’m going to say that I undervalued raw words, and possibly over-valued the revised product.

If anything, maybe I should have increased my goal word count. Especially if the goal is to write cleaner.

If anybody has any ideas on this, I’d love to hear them! Don’t be shy. Shout your thoughts out in the comments.