anthimeria: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
[personal profile] anthimeria posting in [community profile] writers
Every writer I know approaches editing a little differently--some people blow through the rough draft and then painstakingly edit, while others edit as they go and end up with an almost-perfect draft eons later.

My question is: what is your personal approach when working on a long piece?

Short fiction (no matter the medium) is always more flexible because you're not dealing with very many pages or words.  But how do you deal with a 150k word novel, or a 90-page screenplay?  What do you consider a "draft?"  Any tips or tricks for keeping track of all the minutiae (plot changes, character development, that scene you moved from chapter three to chapter five)?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-27 12:06 pm (UTC)
margaretdriscoll: (Default)
From: [personal profile] margaretdriscoll
I've only completed one polished manuscript, and that one went through major plot overhauls. I didn't even have a completed outline when I started. I can't say I'm sorry to have written that one in that way because it was either that method or psyche myself out and write nothing, but I'd prefer not to be that ~fly by the seat of my pants~ twice.

This time around I'm making an outline of major plot points. I'm taking my time with this process, doing a lot of brainstorming, visualization, and that sort of thing...allowing myself wiggle room to make changes during the outlining. Once I've outlined the major stuff I want to stick to it.

I'm outlining using a classic mystery four act structure, so my plan is to write one act at time, then go back and re-read, making sure the characterization and pacing feel "right." I won't go back and start deep edits until I've gotten all the way to the end, when I'll think of myself as having a completed draft.

I like to keep track of character developments, subplots, etc. in color coded notes on the outline. That worked really well for me last time around, and hopefully my plot won't be as slippery this time around. With a mystery where the plot points and clues lead directly to a solution I'll have much less wiggle room for major changes and shifting scenes around. That's one of the reasons I chose this genre for the second time around! I feel a bit more in control of the process, and just as creative.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-30 12:20 am (UTC)
margaretdriscoll: (Default)
From: [personal profile] margaretdriscoll
I'd never heard of a four act structure before a few weeks ago. I stumbled across this website and am trying to use the formula (I know, I know...that word gives many writers hives) to shape my backstory and scribbles into a workable plot outline.

The only manuscript I ever finished was a tween adventure book. My "process" was completely whacked. It would be more accurate to call it an anti-process (as in---->have only a vague idea of plot and character, start writing, take breaks for months at a time, re-tool it several times with major plot and character changes, go back and edit when stuck at thinking up a climax and ending....go back and edit again when STILL stuck, then crank out an ending as fast as possible the day before the manuscript contest deadline.)

Yeah... At least I finished, right?

One thing I did like about that last time around, and that I'm doing this time around, is that color coded outline business. Like I'll keep track of the actual clue trail in one color, the red herring clue trails in different colors, the love interest sub plot in other color...that way I can make sure I'm including everything I need in each chapter and not letting plot elements go for too long. That's the idea, anyway.

And yes, I hope stopping act by act and seeing how the characterization feels works a bit better. I was so adrift the last time around. I can't even stand the thought of going back and seeing if that old manuscript is actually workable. I look on that one as a learning experience. It wouldn't surprise me at all if what I'm working on now gets thrown on the "learning experience" pile. But that's okay! I crazy-love this whole process, you know?

Oh! I recently got an amazing writing book. I love this book so much, and really wish it didn't have such a dopey title and description because it would be such a great addition to any writer's shelf, regardless of genre: Don't Murder Your Mystery.

What sort of mysteries do you like? More of an amateur sleuth/cozy sort of thing? Maybe with some humor? Or are you more interested in meticulously plotted puzzles with twists and lots of suspects...maybe a hard-boiled detective, or a more endearing detective? Do you like grittier crimes with forensic details, or do you prefer that stuff to be glossed over? I won't have recommendations for all of those =D but I'm interested, all the same, in what other mystery readers like to read. There's a comm over at LJ, but nothing here yet.

(These rambles are my version of "short" I'm afraid, and in trying to be brief I might be sending a wrong impression of myself as organized with a clever system. This isn't the case. I'm a goofball, struggling to find a system that works.)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-30 02:44 am (UTC)
margaretdriscoll: (Default)
From: [personal profile] margaretdriscoll
I did those super-clever~! links to the mystery plotting website and a description of Don't Murder Your Mystery, but the font color didn't change all that much. Float over "this website" in the first paragraph, and the book title further down, and you should land where you need to be.

I love YA, too! I was writing a YA manuscript right up until a couple of months ago, but then I shelved it to work on something I could structure more easily...as well as something with characters closer to my own age. I got sick of saturating my imagination with the culture of youth, but I'm not outright discarding that project. I'd love to go back to it one day.

Our reading tastes actually sound very similar, although I'm wary of both science fiction and fantasy. According to the bias of my own personal taste filters, when those genres are done well they're done so indescribably well that it's almost painful when the books end. But! When they're written badly they're reeeeally written badly. I suppose that's true of any genre, but I seem to have more patience for crap when it comes to other types of books. I've certainly read (and enjoyed) plenty of fluff books mixed in with the "good" ones. I don't know if I've read any urban fantasy. We should exchange recs =D

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