Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Starting A New Project

Thank you to everyone who answered my call in the Decisions Are The Worst post. Your support was wonderful and the resounding advice was the ultimate truth of writing: just start. I love having a community with which to dialogue!

It was really helpful thinking "out loud" on my blog and reading the various comments. By articulating my dilemma, I was able to focus and make progress. So I thought I'd share the process I used to begin.

When I asked the initial question, I had three projects is various stages. The first thing I had to do was choose a project. Right now, the major constraint is time. I'm not completely finished with Strong Enough, so that meant I shouldn't get too involved with something as large as SE. With this in mind, I examined the condition of each piece.
  1. The first option, Anonymous Diaries, is fleshed out but it lacks structure.
  2. The second option, Graffiti, is largely fleshed out with structure but requires research to elicit the desired commentary. This will be a difficult piece.
  3. The third, Lily, is primed for a "just start writing" approach.
Even as I wrote my previous post, I discounted number two. When I take on that project, I can't have anything else on my plate. I decided to save the third option for November. I'll write a minimum of 1700 words every day with a million friends, everyone cheering each other on, refusing to edit, and allowing our stories to flow willy nilly. Will I hit all the murky plot points floating in my mind, or will something unexpected happen? I suspect both.
I chart, therefore I am

In the case of Anonymous Diaries I'd already written approximately 3500 words, giving the story a basic shape. Next I asked: what was my intention? What was my purpose? How many characters? I sensed another plot asking to weave in, but I decided against it providing me another story arc for later.

After answering these questions, I determined that the structure dictated a novella because languishing in this style/plot could be tedious to the reader. I had a simple story that ought to be told directly. As there's no major research needed, I settled on a single character first draft with the expectation that I wouldn't need many more than 10,000 words.

Next I collected all the fragments into Scrivener to see it as a whole. Once everything was orderly, I saw the holes and WHAM, I knew exactly what kind of frame I wanted for the story. I promptly added a chart to my notes and the whole thing came into focus. Partly because the piece will be short, and partly due to the nature of the prose, I'm employing some poetry techniques and thinking of my work as living in four stanzas. Because I love symmetry, I will begin with an equal number of scenes/entries in each stanza. I may even limit the word count in each section. I love it when structure plays a part in a story, and in this story it is a key element.

The words are already flowing and I've turned off my editor, happy to simply write. I believe I can write the first draft before my Beta Readers are finished with Strong Enough. Then I'll set this piece aside to do my (hopefully) final revision of my novel. When SE is ready to release, I'll have two pieces ready for a second draft and a third humming away, tapping her toe until we dance in November.

A song I listened to while writing this was Zucchero & Co., "Baila Morena"