Saturday, May 29, 2010

Old School

I'm eighty pages into my new wip, and it hits me . . .

I'm out of control.
I've lost grasp of my original vision.

I think of it like the panicky moment I feel when I take a walk and get lost in the woods (happens often, I'm sorry to say). I have no choice but to walk forward, confidently, until I find a familiar landmark.

Perhaps you can relate.

I had to do something, so I pulled out the paper products and went old school.

First, I knew I wanted to work more on character development, but I didn't want to lose the plot points and quick pacing required for this particular story. Also, this story is told from more than one point of view, so I wanted to make sure each character has a say in what happens.

I pulled out my notebook and made a list of plot points and the characters involved in each.

Next, I purchased a box of index cards in different colors.

I wrote out scenes on the cards and color coded them according to the character doing the action. (Not sure why I made a cross . . .)

I placed all of the cards out on a table and put them in chronological order. I checked to make sure each of the main characters had equal say in the process. I numbered the cards, and stacked them in order. I now have a path to follow.

I would love to hear about some of the old school techniques you use for planning and drafting your work.

The tried and true lives on . . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Writing Life: A Flow Chart

Yes, I did design a flow chart.

A simple chart devoid of emotion or complication depicting the life of a writer.

I sketched out my design and shared it with S.C. Watson. He added certain artistic embellishments.


Please click the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Listening to Stories

Listening to stories

I recently discovered the joy of listening to audio books. Why hadn’t I made the connection before? I have a 20 minute drive to the main village on the island, so nearly every day I have time to listen.

My apprehension came from the perception that I have to see the words on the page in order to truly appreciate a book. Reading is still my preferred method, but then again, didn’t I spend many years as a child listening to my mom read nursery rhymes and my dad tell his wonderful fantasy stories? Even when I read to my sons, I pause and ponder the way a writer did something on the page I missed while reading silently.

I just finished the audio version of the Inkheart series and lost myself in the beautiful language of the story. I started noticing patterns I would have missed, like patterns of three in exposition. Three represents what we find in nature, in religion, and, oh yes, Schoolhouse Rock (“Three is a Magic Number”). The patterns of three make the fantastic world of Inkheart come alive.

When I see a word on a page, especially if it is a unique or freshly used word, I may pause to notice, but when I hear the word, it resonates on another level entirely. When Funke uses the word supercilious for Orpheus (a character in Inkheart), it has more power when heard. The “s” sound conjures up an image of a snake or the word sly . . . I think “sly as a fox.” A perfect word for this particular character.

More discoveries.

I would love to hear your experiences. I will never give up reading books. I love seeing words, but listing has added another dimension to the experience.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Live Characters

When I was asked to write what inspired me to write Play Noir, I wrote the following:

It was a cold, gray January morning; the kind of day where the wind stabs like merciless steel knives. I hunkered down in my car for a ferry ride to the mainland. I had my laptop computer and a voice activation program. I was wearing a brown fedora. The characters started speaking, and the words appeared on my computer screen. I swear that's exactly what happened.

I was having a little fun. What struck me as interesting is how people responded to the last part. Was I being literal? After all, I was using a voice activation program, so the character’s lines did come out of my mouth and appear on the screen. Was I being figurative? In my mind, the characters appeared and started talking. If you write fiction, you know what I’m talking about, right?

The cool thing about writing plays is the words do appear (even if you use a keyboard), and, if you’re lucky, the characters appear.

Here's what happened to me.

Kaitlyn and Aaimee as Marylou and Jane celebrating the removal of their husband.

Ed and Gary as Jake and Marlowe discussing the cruel, heartless city.

Photos by the talented Anita Holladay.