Sunday, March 29, 2009


National Novel Writing Month - apparently there is this yearly novel writing competition - looks interesting and all, but I don't think I should get involved in writing a novel in a month in November. I should have other things to do. What is interesting is the page with tips on how to EDIT your work once you have a draft. Several people talk about their approach:

The best three comments are from Chris Baty. He says:

1) It will take longer than you expect - and he gives a timeline. Very helpful.

2) Get someone to help you with the plot - get a 30 page or so storyboard and then get help with nailing that down. - I think the getting help is good, but I think the 30 page storyboard is even more helpful, since it gives an OUTLINE of the whole thing without all the pesky details. It gives you a frame to work from.

3) Do not polish the details of style until you have the plot down. What you polish may end up getting cut, and you end up futsing with details that will never matter. Once you know the plot and the characters - THEN you can make it pretty.

I want to add a fourth from my own experience. Use that 30 page storyboard as a base and start filling things in as you go. I made an outline that I kept expanding and expanding until first one and then a second and a third chapter emerged. At first I tried to write linearly, from page 1 to page 200, but that is really not how I process information. When I started seeing it as a puzzle where you have bits and pieces connected and they grow bigger and then one bit suddenly connects to another and you keep an eye out for all the edge pieces because when you have those in you have a frame for the whole thing. It has also been the case several times that I have a few paragraphs that stick together but really don't belong where I first stick them, so I move three paragraphs over to another part of a chapter (or in some cases to a different chapter) just like you do with the puzzle when you realize that those particular red pieces are not part of the nose but of the scarf in the other corner of the picture.

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