Friday, April 1, 2011

B is for Breakthrough

Because I started writing my novel with a general outline, I knew exactly what would happen. The book is a mystery but, more than that, it's a story about how grief, guilt, and regret affects us; I thought I had the mystery solved and plotted. But Thursday, as I was editing a scene, adding details and dialogue, I had a breakthrough: by tweaking the plot and resolution, my characters become so much more dynamic. And now I can't wait to write it and have people read it.

In writing class last week, we discussed process. What gets you going as a writer? Do you have a routine? A ritual? Do you write at home or a coffee shop? I mentioned that, for me, it depends on the type of writing. I write a blog post when I have something to write about (or if I've committed to writing one every day but Sunday for the A to Z Challenge); I write in my journal when I need to write but can't share it with anyone.

But for my larger projects, like the novel, I set weekly goals. That gives me some flexibility--maybe I write a lot Tuesday and none Wednesday--and it also allows me to have small victories along the way, like crossing the 20,000 word mark; like figuring out a major plot point.

I've enjoyed meeting so many dedicated writers in real life and online the past couple years. It's interesting to see how we each go about creating our fictional worlds--luckily, I've discovered, there's not one right way. Each of us figures out what works best for us.


Tonja said...

I can't wait to read it! It is so exciting when you have a breakthrough - I did too!

I have been having a hard time starting something new and sticking to it. So I went to the bookstore coffee shop last night, bought a new notebook (I feel like it needs to be perfect when I type and am not ready for perfection just yet), and realized my lucky table - the one where I spent hours writing my first story - was taken. It turns out all the tables are lucky! I got a great start on my story!! I'm headed back to the coffee shop today.

Kris Yankee said...

I'm usually a pantster. I come up with the idea, then I let it mull around in my brain for awhile. I think about it while I'm cleaning, sitting at stop lights, cooking, whenever I'm not actively engaged in something that requires major brain power. I create a character list with full names, likes/dislikes, and qualities about each. I'll create a new playlist for my iPod. When it's time to write, I sit down and the words flow out. I spend so much time thinking about the characters and story, that I think it all dumps out like water. On days when the flow is more clunky, I take a break and go back to my character notes.

RosieC said...

Congratulations on your breakthrough. I love it when that happens :)

I go through spurts. Sometimes I won't write for days (work and school tend to get in the way). Sometimes I'll write 5K in a day (though no promises that it's any good :) While I do have goals for myself, and I usually meet them, I have to be more flexible with myself until I can finish this semester and move into writing more full-time.

East for Green Eyes

george rede said...

Love your A and B posts. I can't help but think of this A to Z challenge as the literary equivalent of a marathon. 26 miles? 26 letters in the alphabet? How uncanny. (Hey, there's a U letter for you down the road!)

August said...

Thanks for stopping by! Tonja, thanks for your encouragement, and congrats on your own breakthrough! Kris, I try to do that -- when the writing isn't flowing, do another writing task, like a character sketch. Rosie, I'm impressed -- 5k in one day! I think maybe I *should* give the inner-critic a rest and allow my words to flow uncensored (at least until the revision process;)
And George, glad you're enjoying it! I may start over once May rolls around -- I like having a daily theme :) A marathon is an apt description!
(Sorry for the late reply -- worked all day yesterday!)

RosieC said...

The best thing I can do for the story itself is separate the different aspects of my inner writer. There's creative-dreamer, editor, revisionist, marketing rep, etc. When I'm writing the first draft, I lock everyone other than creative-dreamer in a closet. The story comes out messy, the style is horrible, and I don't let ANYONE else read it in that state. Then comes in editor who fixes the grammar and the style. Then comes revisionist who looks at larger macro issues, like "Does the tension keep building here?" or "Is this logical based on what X said two chapters ago?" Anyway, that's how I get 5K in a day. And, really, that only happened during NaNo :)