Wednesday, 24 October 2012

NaNo 2012, post 3, 8 days left!

Not a lot of posts this year before NaNo I guess... Doesn't mean I'm not working or stressing though :) I've send of the Black Sheep manuscript to an editor and did work for uni, but that is not what I'm talking about today. Today is about my outlining method and how I visualise my chapters and work.

This post compliments well with my 2 posts from last year, Post 4 and Post 6. That talk about my outlining method and other things.

So, where am I now? I'm around the 3rd and 4th picture of my Paperwaste method (Post 4). I have a couple of scenes written down and sort of planned where I'm going. They are all on different loose leave papers. I also did half of the Create a Character clinic from Holly Lisle (link at the bottom).
So usually when I'm at this stage I start also making a large paper to have a better oversight on what I'm doing. I'm doing a different one from last year (as seen in Post 6), but the idea is the same.

I divide the total amount of words by the amount of words I want in a chapter (or the amount of chapters you want in total, depending on how you work). Last year I did 1.000 words per chapter and had a total of 50 chapters planned, but as I was writing I found out I already ended the story at 44 chapters.
So this year I do 1.250 words per chapter. This also goes better with my uni work of 2.500 word piece of a story. So I have a total of 40 chapters, which is close to where I got last year. Which is good.
I then spread those out on the paper so I can keep track of where I am and so I can see how my story works as a total.

So, how do I make a wall outline? Well, like this:

- paper
- marker or marker pen (as long as it's easily visible and thicker than a pen)
- ruler
- Adhesive tape (I use the matte see through type)
- scizzors
- pens
- amount of chapters you need written down somewhere
- last but not least, a wall:

1. Choose how big you'll make the large sheet of paper. I choose 4 by 2 pieces of A4 paper. 4 wide, 2 high, so I have 12.500 words in each column.
I work on one side and stick them together like this:

I first tape the outer edges together, keeping it aligned and as flat as possible.

When I have everything in place like this.

I then tape all the cracks. So that I can use the sheet as one sheet, without having to worry about my pen getting caught in the edges.

2. I then flip over the paper and divide the paper into sections. 4 columns with 10 chapters each, which is 5 chapters per character in each column.

I then put the word counts of each column at the bottom.

3. I divide the columns into different sections. Each section holds 2 chapters, one for each character. This was I can be sure I explore different things with both my characters and won't have everything come from only 1 of the characters and have the other one lag behind.

The text you see in it is from this article: Writing the Romance Novel - Seven story beats

4. Put it up on the wall.

Yep it is that simple. Okay, I'm cheating a little. I still need to put in the story elements that I've got.
Here is a picture with some of my notes that will be put onto the page:

But it will get quite full with notes once I've got my official outline finished.

The pros of doing this are endless. You can make sure each character has enough story, you can be sure that you have enough story to begin with, you can keep track of separate story lines.
The con if it? there is a lot of paper involved...

After his step I usually put it into the computer and print out another story outline which is focused more on the smaller parts and the scenes in each chapter (see Part 4).

Okay, enough for today. I'm gonna get some more planning done!

Tip for the day: Holly Lisle's website
Holly Lisle has amazing stuff to work with. Her website is full of articles on outlining, fantasy elements and all sorts of other stuff that can help, no matter the genre you write, check it out!
Right now I'm working through her "Create a Character clinic" on my kindle, and though different from how I normally work, it's great!

Write on!


Sunday, 14 October 2012

NaNo 2012, Post 2, 18 days to go!

I'm starting to slightly freak out now. Last year I had about 4 posts written by this time. I've been quite busy with all sorts of things up to this point, though stuff is slightly changing around now. I've been doing quite a lot of university work for the past 2 weeks, now I need to start concentrating more on NaNo.

First, a flashback. Last year I wrote some useful posts so I'll be quickly reading them over to see if I need to repeat something.
My October 8 post from last year talks about the dreaded wordcounts and how to make sure you don't have a deficit of about 300 to 1000 words at the moment you upload. Check your work on time so you can make sure that both the NaNo counter and your own counter show that you have indeed won. Wouldn't want to end up having 200 too little at 11 o'clock on November 30, now would you? Check out the post here: NaNo 2011, Post 3, 23 days to go!
On October 10 I wrote a more substantial post. All about plotting and outlining. I show two methods (Notecarding by Holly Lisle and 9 grid plan by ?? ) and how even though I tried them they didn't work. The next part is more about how I normally plan my work, with an example of Black Sheep. I'm not sure what I was on that day, but I must have been having a lot of fun writing it, cause some of the stuff I say... Anyway, it shows different ways of outlining and might be useful to some people who think about how to plot. NaNo 2011, Post 4, 21 days to go!
I then talk more about how I plan where my main plot points go in my last post before NaNo: NaNo 2011, Post 6, 2 days to go!

Looking back to those posts makes me feel slightly lacking this year, I was so busy with planning and the language I use... so grown up and professional (for me anyway). I'm nowhere near as confident this year. Largely because I'm actually not planning a lot, I've been working on university stuff mostly and doing some other things on the side. Though today I looked at my calendar and sort of freaked out... Sort of... A lot.
I feel like I should be way more ahead for NaNo than I really am at this moment, I feel like I should have at least some planning done (not that I haven't done anything, it's just that it's not really planned). The problem for me this year is something I haven't thought of before.
I don't know how the genre works structurally. I've never before written a romance story.
Black Sheep's outline wasn't too hard for me because I already knew a couple of things that had to happen, they were main story points. For Disturbed Fate this was slightly more complicated but still, I knew what I wanted to happen and made it happen. I had a couple of points, I put them on the page and then linked them. Both of them are quite dark stories, though Black Sheep more than Disturbed Fate. This story is not planned to be like either of them. Yes they have gay characters, yes they will kiss, but as far as I know, there is where the comparison ends between the three stories.

So the plans for this year are simple, my story will have these elements:
- Gay characters
- romance
- ....
No actually those two are the only two things I've come up with, not much, I'm totally aware of that. I have a couple of scenes I'm really keen on putting in it and I've got the global story down. It will take place in the same world as Disturbed Fate, which is partly why I haven't finished my work on that story. I'm changing some of the "rules" for this story and will have to work those back into Disturbed Fate.
The plus point is that this story has less story arches and sub stories and all the other things that are always so hard to plan. If I'm right I should be able to use more standard methods of outlining this time around. Which might turn into some blog posts. It's harder to spoil the story when working on a romance story in comparison to Black Sheep or Disturbed Fate, which were both not based on standard story forms.

The downside for me right now is that I'm having a hard time figuring out how a love story technically works. I've read quite a couple of them in the last few months, but I feel like I'm missing HOW they work. I can't seem to get a decent grasp on how those stories are actually planned.
Which is what I'll be working on in the next week or so as I'm winding down to finishing most first drafts of my uni work.

So, adding a couple of tips for NaNo-ers, some you might know or already do.
- Fill out your NaNo profile on the website, you can now add your book. Also don't forget to check out the forum of your local NaNo group and get to know the people that write in the same genre as you do. This is where the fun begins.
- Check out the dares and adoption fora. I actually took a scene to put in my story from a dare, and I thought it would perfectly make for the tension I need at a few points. Not only is it good to do if you're stuck, but even if your planning is going well, the adoptions forum or the dares might spark an idea to make the story even BETTER.
- Get your writing program ready and have your back-up options available. This is good to do up front as it means you won't have to go trough some of the hassle when you actually start NaNo. Take special care to make sure you have a back-up system so when your computer crashes or anything you don't lose all your work.
- Make sure people know you're doing NaNo so they don't expect you to come out with them every night or something and are annoyed when you can't. This also means for some people making sure they have enough food in the house for the days they can't be bothered to cook and things like that. NaNo can take a lot out of you, don't make it worse by not planning right.

Most of all though: ENJOY THE PREPARATION FUN. If you're not preparing you will curse yourself later on and if you're not enjoying the preparations you might not be doing something right.
So now I'm off checking out the NaNo template for Scrivener, which they have up on their website:

Write on!