I think the parlance terms are “plotter” or “pantser”: Does one write a structured outline or structure the story as one goes along?
I’m trying to process this whole outline vs. no outline. And how that relates to revision. And where I fit. As I’ve done both, and I’ve done something in the middle, where I have a basic procedure of events following each other.
Like, if I have a rudimentary outline, but the actual first draft deviates from that and has developed a completely different tone and plot, which is the one that should be used in revision? The initial outline or impetus for the story? Or what the story became? Which is truer to the story?
And those questions open up a more important distinction: knowing what the engine or heart of the story is. This leads to what I’ve begun to realize: there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.
More importantly, I’ve come to realize there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.
It’s been an odd week.
Also, I have a mild headache, probably from getting distracted on the Internet (tumblr specifically, so it wasn’t like an info-inspiration hole, just the imprint of others’ thoughts and creative projects into my active consciousness) when I had wanted to revel in the sense of openness and work on a few odds and ends, but …nope. Internet. As one does.
I HAVE discovered that a technique used in an old (and now moot) revision may be what I need for Nights of Heroes. I’d been trying to figure out to parcel out the plot via characters. But it’s soooo much easier to:
- break into plot categories
- categorize characters into plots
- work out how their wants interact and effect the plot
Also did some fine-tuning on types of magical imprisonments:
- types of magical being
- type of imprisonment
- type most likely to be sought be different antagonists
But it does bring out how odd it (still) is to me that Disney’s Aladdin operates in a world where jinn are automatically enslaved. (Unless that’s some quirk of it being a wish…)
Sadly, I’ve only made minimal progress on “White Tree.”
Did a lot of drawings for Inktober. That’s been taking up my writing attention. Cause deadlines! Bleh. Though to be fair, I did enjoy the load of Dreams drawings I did. Also love drawing those characters. But I have missed writing. I’ve just been off, I guess. A bit tired and a sense of feeling over-ambitious but only getting a bare minimum done. (And being me, I have had medical-inspired anxiety about it!)
Sorry for the downer post. I guess there isn’t much to say.
Oh! I forgot. I tweaked a bunch of chronological info and got a better sense of when events happened in lieu of each other. Yay
The Guardians: Book Three
by William Joyce
“this was the dream she had given him when all seemed lost during one of their first great battles with Pitch!” (Joyce, 55).
Chapter Five – Chapter Eight
In the morning, the entire village of Santoff Claussen boards Bunnymund’s egg-train and journeys to the Lunar Lamadary. There’s another hint at the time frame of the story as “[t]rains were still not invented yet (Bunnymund would secretly help the credited inventors some decades later)” (31). This indicates that the story occurs prior to major, widespread modern industrialization, and additionally that it takes place a couple decades prior it. To me that would be three to four decades, so still probably in the 1700s.
This chapter prominently serves to re-introduce the Lamas, the yetis, and what exactly the Lunar Lamadary is. This is conveyed through Katherine answering the other children’s questions. But near the end, Katherine is suddenly uneasy. She no longer feels quite right with her old friends. Specifically, “[s]he didn’t really know where she wanted to be — with the children or with North and the other grown-ups. Even Kailash didn’t comfort her. She was betwixt and between” (37). It has become about Katherine’s change and growth.
Katherine eventually joins the other Guardians, ruminating on why Nightlight seems distant. She speculates it’s because he misses the battles. She also wonders the same about North, but in contrast to Nightlight the former bandit has changed a lot. And while it isn’t what Katherine notices about North’s change, I loved how he
“still loved conjuring up new toys for the children. (Just that morning he’d brought the youngest William a funny sort of toy–a round biscuit-shaped piece of wood with a string attached to it’s middle. When jerked, it would go up and down almost magically. North call it “yo-yo-ho”) (43-4).
And that’s just adorable! I love it. North created a yo-yo, and I just–I really like Santa Claus, okay?
This morning I spent a few hours calibrating and analyzing what causes me stress and my stress levels. Or more specially “needling things that send me into a mental whirlwind panic/confusion.”
I won’t go into the details. Suffice to say, the categories of Creator, Writer, and Promotion feed off one another to create the highest levels of stress and the highest amount of stress. Additionally, as with this blog, some of the trouble comes from the simple question of: what am I doing? What do I intend? (I hope I’ll be able to post my thoughts on that, which have been waiting in my drafts, soon.)
A few, unrelated tidbits I learned about me and my writing today:
- a playlist I made of songs I can listen to over and over without getting sick of them lend themselves to worldbuilding and character development in Nights of Heroes. Which is interesting since it may imply that if left to it, I might think about that series a lot.
- I realized the third section in my recently complete novel (which is in revision) is more incomplete than I realized. Getting a handle on the chronology has helped a whole bunch (i.e. cementing dates so they don’t wiggle around; I have a tendency toward flexible dating…) Additionally, I realized why the second section comes off as different than the rest — it has subplots! The trouble is I’m unsure how much the content of those subplots plays into the larger story. So anyway, it gives me focus. I can work with that.
Sorry if this was a short and brusque.
I took an iPad photo of by analysis notes, if anyone’s curious.
I apparently struggle with revision.
So, it’s not hard to conceptualize a pattern of how to revise. I theoretically break revision up into multi-steps, to address more detailed attention. Like start with making sure the structure works, and so and so until you reach sentence structure. So, yeah, I get that.
But I realized there’s an aspect of revision that really throws me:
how do you know what the right order of a story is?
I can string events in order in my mind, especially if I write it out, but how do I know whether that order — event to event to event — is the best order for the story to unfold in? My criteria right now is whether it flows smoothly; does it seem as if it fits together and does the previous events seem to hook up with the following event. But how do I know for sure it’s best?
Some of this is probably predicated by how I feel writers (and creators) often operate on a “what if?” scenario basis. Which is really odd to me. If I write a story one way, that’s the way it is. Characters might change. Ambitions might change. Plot might change. If it changes as a result of discovering and revising the story, sure. But consciously sitting down to play out different scenarios is kind of…weird to me.
I guess what I’m getting at is that my impression of writers is that they mix and match events (or scenes) to get the best string of events (or story).
My question is then, how do you know which pattern is the best story?
And that gums me up in revision because I don’t know. Or don’t feel like I know. I wish there was a criteria to let me know when I’ve reached the best string of events for my story. That would really help. But I don’t think that exists.
As always, feel free to share your experiences or thoughts. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond quickly, but I wanted to extend the offer.
The Guardians: Book Three
by William Joyce
“But that was past. This was a different day. And through the friendship he now knew, he could change bad men to good and stone back to flesh” (Joyce, 12).
This book has a beautifully structured plot.
Like E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! this one begins in Santoff Claussen with the children. They are playing games and it’s actually cute: “In this new game of Warrior Egg tag, to be scrambled meant you had been caught by the opposing egg team and therefore, had a lost a point” (1). There’s a touch of cleverness with the children’s game-naming.
This opening, rather than feeling out of place, works for me. I don’t mind the other children so much. My previous association and attachment to them from Book 1 and Book 2, makes me glad to see them happy. Additionally, the peaceful, happy set-up into story is a relief after the battle at the Earth’s core and North’s near death. I feel good seeing the characters this way.
The chapter proceeds to explain what the children and the Guardians have been doing since their last fight with Pitch. One thing I liked was how
So, for awhile my approach to revising stories, be they short or long, was to either literally revise in-text or to re-write from scratch. The latter was not…the best idea. To wit, I rewrote a 68k word story, to make it fit better with where the story had gone (which is now obsolete), and it ended up at 111k words, having only made it to 2/3rds of the original plot. In other words, it became even more rambling than before.
Recently I came across a suggestion that for revision one should rewrite, not from scratch, but from the already written story. Which I took to mean following its scenes and its order, rather than letting the story meander on a completely new path. (Nothing wrong with letting a revision go to new places, I think, but not letting it just be a new story.)
I’ve always had a puzzle with revision. If I rewrite completely, with only a loose thread, I’m afraid it’ll be a new (worse) story. But if I do the rewrite I read about, it becomes the struggle of not rewriting each scene word by word from what I just re-read so I can remember what’s in the each paragraph/scene.
I wish there was a step by step procedure that would let me know I’m hitting the right “marks” to let me know when I’m revising my story in the right way. Or getting my characters right. Or whatever I need to do. It’s not very clear.