Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stage the Second



Yup, it doesn't stop with 3x5 cards. Once those are filled out, shuffled, crossed-through and flipped over to reuse, shuffled and rearranged, a few thrown in the fire and fresh cards begrudgingly trotted out to take their place, I have the bones of my plot. No trying-to-piece-together-a-complete-cromagnon-from-a-scrap-of jawbone for me-- I've got a reasonably complete skellington here to work with!

Now to my lovely notebook. And it is lovely: the wee red beasty has nice creamy paper, hard covers, a pocket in back, an elastic band to hold it shut and one of those sweet ribbons to mark my place. I freely confess to a certain sartorial streak in matters of my stationery. :)

Right, the notebook. Sitting down with trusty, lovely, 50-odd year old fountain pen (that sartorial streak again), I flesh out each note card. Usually 50-100 words, just enough to describe what'll be happening, key points to hit when I finally sit down to write my draft.

At this point I found problems that didn't show up in the note cards: night scenes in the middle of the day, suspects cleared then re-interviewed, a few plot holes. So back to work, shuffling, scribbling, shuffling. The plot hole gets filled but now I'm *awful* long between my Big Midpoint and my Act II Climax. I've become flabby about the middle. Shuffle, scribble, tear up a couple more cards. Scribble scribble, shuffle, scribble.

If this sounds like a lot of work, please remember this is usually a stage I go through AFTER I've written the damn novel. In fact, I'm sometimes finding these problems after several drafts. Compared to that, this is a piece of cake.

One odd bonus I hadn't predicted: I'm writing faster. On the one hand, I'm able to angle language, imagery, etc. to foreshadow what's to come. On the other, these poor characters have been jumping up and down in that diary, scene after scene, mute and waving for my attention. Now that I'm finally letting them talk and act and do stuff, they're going hard.

At the end of Day 3, the New and Improved Daily Wordcountometer (shown on the right) stands at 5,400 words. Now if you'll excuse me, I gots me some writing to do...

9 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I admire the beauty of your notebook and notes. I have no such elegance within me.

Barbara Martin said...

My notebook isn't so fancy: just a coil edged scribbler. My writing utensil is often a pencil to be able to rewrite areas that aren't quite right. This saves on paper. I have learned to leave spaces on each page for those inspired revelations that tend to come when reviewing the draft.

billie said...

Am interested to read how this shift in method works for you - as a non-outliner, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to shift gears that way myself!

The photo of your notebook and lovely pen is very inspirational - makes me want to write, NOW. :)

Thanks!

Lana Gramlich said...

Congrats on the faster writing. I hope you find your new method satisfying & wish you the best of luck with it!

cs harris said...

Now THAT is a notebook to lust after.

One suggestion: Don't throw your cards away! I'm 120 pages into my book, yet last night I spent about six hours shoving notecards around (on the dining room table, away from little cats' feet). I'm beginning to think I find it most helpful at this stage, when I already have a feeling for characters and a sense of how the action is playing out (as to how I imagined it would).

Steve Malley said...

Charles, some reason, I always picture you at an old Underwood typewriter, pounding out the blood and thunder you do so well!

Barbara, that sounds like a fine way to go about it too. :)

Billie, I'll keep you posted on how the shift works for me. I'm certainly hoping it'll save some editing after!

Lana, you're so awesome-- hope you're feeling 100% again! :)

Steve Malley said...

Candy, I keep the notecards close by at all times.

Last week I dropped them all over the floor. Putting them back in order, I realized I had a plot hole that needed to be filled and a little more card-shuffling and note-scribbling showed me how to fill it...

You may well have converted me.

Miladysa said...

"If this sounds like a lot of work, please remember this is usually a stage I go through AFTER I've written the damn novel. "

Nice to know I'm not the only one LOL Although I've never written a novel I am attempting to rewrite my story :)

liz fenwick said...

I like the idea of the cards after the first draft...may give this a try when I finish the draft of Penderown.......

Love notebooks too - red sounds decadent :-)
lx