Thursday, June 2, 2011

Writing PREP

Pants are evil. Down with pants!
Oh, Man... this is SO beyond Pantsing versus planning... Though for the record, I am a middler... I don;t outline so much as TIMELINE... Okay, so the next couple chapters up I do closer to an outline... but for the gestalt of the thing, I do a timeline.

But what ELSE is there to do?

Character Sketches

You don't need EVERY character in the book, but it's good to have your MCs and the 'critical to the plot' secondary characters... and some backstory... stuff that may or may not make the book, but that is important to motivation.

I ALSO create a character page in my spreadsheet. As I write, when I add a character that wasn't in that original plan, I write the name and role. It takes a little time, but it SAVES a ton of time.

NOT how I diagram (mine look more like mind maps)

Who doesn't LOVE a plot diagram? Mysteries in particular are SO WELL suited to DRAWING. Not that my drawings are beautiful, but they're FUN... *cough * I also like to diagram relationships as those are fun surprises to pop in later...

Word Count Charts!!!

I love the BuNoWriMo wordcount too because it's pertiful... but I am a girl who likes to balance my goals against what I accomplish visually. I use the Open Chart program. My TABLE currently looks like this:

Where I have my doc total, a column to subtract yesterdays total so I know today's addition, my MANUAL day count, a sum of the two, and my GOAL (both by day and cumulatively). Note that I try to write more weekends and use that to lessen the daily total later... starting is easy, but then the story gets harder... better to just plan on that in my world...

And then I have my graphic display because somehow it serves better as reinforcement... pretty pictures and all...

Brief Scene or Two

These books that stew... I almost always get a feel for an interaction or two that helps me define a relationship or character... I let myself write them. They nearly never make the book (so I figure for a WriMo it's not cheating). It is more an exercise in voice, characterization... all that...

Who doesn't know this map? Seriously.

Oh, MAN, maps make me giddy! Anyone else get off on making maps? I made a map of the BUILDING (it is actually two with a narrow alley between) where my microbrewery is. Kenny gets 1/3 of the bottom floor of one. At the other end, only on two floors, is an Art Gallery/art supply. Between, but only half wide is a music store on the street, and BEHIND the office for a wellness center, which teaches yoga above the microbrewery. The building across the alley has a fresh produce place, a Romanian owned bakery, an Asian fish market, and an Import market (baskets, wicker furniture, pillows, rugs). Buildings are 4 floors, all with businesses and offices on first two floors and lofts on the top two. HooHooHoo!!! (can you TELL how much this excites me?) But not only that, it helps me keep things straight. I know who owns each, how they get along, who lives there... as this is intended to be a series, and these details will matter, if not now, eventually.

What do/did all of YOU do to prep for writing?

BuNoWriMo progress, for the curious:

Microbrew Mystery
is 8% complete

04014 / 50000 words written


Siv Maria said...

knock it off, you're scaring! And how did you get the meter on your page, that meter is making me crazy!

Ted Cross said...

I do maps for my fantasies. I like mine and have a link to it on my blog (though for some reason it is erroring out today, darn Blogger!).

I do very spare outlines and character sketches, but that's about it. I sometimes run a timeline so I can make sure everything flows in proper order.

Christine Murray said...

Such organisation scares me. But then again, I am a dedicated pantser.

Jessica Bell said...

Oh my gosh! You're nuts! I'm laughing ... you could write SO much in the time that you prepare all this stuff. LOLOLOL

Whatever pushes your buttons, honey! ;o)

mooderino said...

Holy Moley, that's way more prep than I've ever done. Fantastic attention to detail. i guess you go in to the story locked and loaded.

Moody Writing

Old Kitty said...

Erm.. I go NAKED??

:-) Take care

Trisha said...

Great progress so far!! I need to stop visiting people's blogs & start writing my day 2 words!!

Teresa aka JW said...

I love maps. I love diagrams. Go Girl!!!

Al said...

Character sketches: Check
Diagrams: kind of, I use a spreadsheet instead
Word Count Charts: Nahh, just what I get off my word processor
Brief Scene; Yes oh yes. They are soooo useful!
Maps: check, although I use pre-existing maps.
So I guess our methods are similar.

Hart Johnson said...

Siv-it seems to be a little hit and miss with that poor chart! I couldn't open the page at ALL from work yesterday, but from home worked better--Maybe see if you can get it all on Firefox? I copied the code in the box under it for here, and then had to paste it in htlm mode.

Ted-my detail on character stuff varies a lot, depending on what it is and how long I've been thinking about it. It can be fairly sparse, though I do like back story (which I know YOU do, too)

Christine-teehee. BOO!

Jessica, but see that's the THING about WriMos. I COULDN'T write first! (and honestly, the writing goes so much more smoothly)

Moody-*giggle* locked and loaded... I like that... It's like getting a couple cocktails and being sent to the loony bin.

Jenny-well yeah THAT! Of COURSE THAT!

Go Trish Go!!!

Teresa-HA! I knew i wasn't alone!

Al-fabulous to find a twin!!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

That is amazing! Love to see how you tackle your writing this way. Nope...don't do it myself, but that's because I can't seem to think that way!

L.G.Smith said...

Oh, I have to draw maps, time lines, and character sketches or I get completely lost. My characters travel a lot (by horse and on foot) and keeping track of their mileage about gives me a migraine. No horses as motorcycles for me. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Have fun charting all the progress you'll make this month. I finished my draft and have Blogger back on my side. What more could a woman ask? Where are my pants?

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

I like to get pictures of my characters ahead of time, especially the ones i don't have a good feel for yet.
As for BuNo, i'm at a little over 5K. I have to try and get ahead since i won't be writing Friday or Saturday

Megan Bostic said...

Oh my god, I'm a total Pantser (a term I just learned a couple weeks ago, I still feel like such a newbie in this business). I cannot plan, outline. Sometimes I write a note about the beginning and the end and then as I'm writing I fill in the empty spaces. If I need to do research, I do it when I get to that place (I hate research). But planning? fogeddaboudit.

Johanna Garth said...

I LOVE all the graphs and wingdings but I don't think I could begin to create them! I just keep a tally of my word total and when I hit my goal I put in the new goal at the bottom of the WIP.

No outlines until about halfway through when I've invariably written myself into a box. At that point I walk around the house muttering to myself until I've figured out the rest of the plot. Then I, quick, write it down before I forget it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I always plan ahead with an outline, but I wouldn't know what to do with a diagram!

Hart Johnson said...

Elizabeth, so funny how different brains work!

LG-yeah, I had one of those that the minute details of getting here to there were critical... definitely need maps for those!

Carol-congrats on finishing the draft and welcome back!

Sarah-so interesting on pictures. I really DON'T like real people images for most of my characters. It's just to rare that they are exactly right, and I'd be tempted to SHARE them, and I don't really like seeing other people's pics of characters if they don't fit how I see them. (I don't like book covers with people much, either)

Megan-I research as I go or after the fact too. I am just to susceptible to tangents to do it ahead of time... I hafta plan a little though...

Johanna-I've actually done that 'wait to the halfway point' to plan, too. It doesn't work as well for me, but on occasion I can't seem to help myself.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I do outlines and character sketches, and during NaNo, I had a word count chart.

Michael Offutt said...

Nice prep work hart. Thanks for the comment on my blog but just to defend myself at the "5th grade girl comment" I'm a gay man and the guy I use as my wallpaper is an attractive man in his twenties. I see nothing wrong with having that as my wallpaper (seeing as I'm openly gay) so I really don't see how that makes me a 5th-grade girl? There is lots of precedent of gay men being attracted to good looking men (whether they are straight or gay) and if you went to Twilight...all the men that were there watching that movie were gay. I'd put money on it.

GigglesandGuns said...

All that planning, I'm impressed. You do so many charts that have to be updated I'd never get to writing.
I'm old fashioned I use a notebook for character, notes. plots, and drawings that will NEVER see the light of day.
You WOW me every time, Tart.

Misha said...

I don't diagram, but keep track of all the things you mentioned except for diagrams. Still... I think you'd like yWriter. It's freeware and keeps track of word counts, characters, places things etc. I switched all my drafts over to it. Only pain is that I had to copy/paste an entire book to Word to that I could edit with Track Changes.

Loooove to draw maps. I'd draw more if they didn't take so much time to do.


Cheeseboy said...

Oh man, I am so screwed. I do none of this except sketch maps of middle earth. Great advice.

Julie Musil said...

Girl, I can't believe how darn organized you are! I'm super impressed. And dizzy. But mostly impressed.

Crystal Pistol said...

"Off with pants!" Best line I've read this year. Yes. I agree. Show the world what one has to offer!

I write on scraps of trash. No wonder I've never published anything.

Jan Morrison said...

uh, prepare? Like if I were having a party and I'd have to clean up the house a bit and make a chili? I prepare by sitting down at the computer and playing about a hundred games of frozen bubble. Then I get the program on so I can work in 25 minute sprints. Then I get to work asking myself small - really small- questions. Like 'who's there?' 'what do you want?'
That's it.