Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Land of Confusion

I'm about 260 pages deep in my latest project, a young adult fantasy/sci-fi steampunkish novel, The Dragonfly Warrior. So far so good, but holy cow, I've lost track of some things. Like what day it is (or how many days have passed between certain scenes), what does this minor character look like, and other fine details that I did not write down.

I'm not a big outliner, and I did create a flow chart of major events for my manuscript. I did also list all my characters. Funny thing is, I've stuck to maybe 50% of what I've plotted out. For some reason, the writing of a major story arc surrounded by sub-plots is more of an organic process for me that I originally thought. For me, I'm at home with flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-writing.  All I can say is, thank God I can type very fast without looking at the keyboard. Otherwise, I'd be a goner!

So I've scoured the internets from various writers and editors. There's tons of software I could use to map out and track stuff, and there are many kinds of spreadsheets and tools I could employ. I think what I'm going to do, for now anyway, is go back chapter-by-chapter, scene by scene, and extract specific bits. Then put those bits into a table of some sort. Things I will track in my chart will be date/time, characters involved, quick plot points, important details (foreshadowing points), and major theme flow.

Kay Kenyon, author of the Entire and the Rose fantasy-sci fiction series, said that she does something like this. Not a chart, but a chapter-by-chapter list. And I think it will work for me. If not, I'll just try something else. Writing my first manuscript in two years has been fun and frustrating, but overall, I think I'm learning about my own personal creative process.

*If you haven't already, you NEED to read Key Kenyon's books. They are awesome. In fact, the first book Bright of the Sky is FREE on Amazon.


Anonymous said...

I love the title!

I have a note book I carry in my purse for my latest as my goal is to hit 100k words. Plotting is hell, eh?

In my edits, my editor wanted more details on my heroine's car. I guessed at the colour and phew...I was right!

Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

I hear so much about Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose series! I have the first book, but I haven't had the chance to sit down and read it yet. I picked up Maximum Ice first, just to get a feel of her style before deciding to dive into a new series. She does have a unique way of developing and portraying her worlds.

It seems you and I may have similar methods of working out our stories. I can't stick to a detailed outline; it just kills my desire to write.

You were talking about flow charts and things. You know that yWriter software I told you about? You can keep track of your timeline with it by days, even hours and minutes. It can also map your overall storyline, as well, like using scene cards, and it lets you move things around. I've never really used those tools before (I kind of have to write it out on paper), though if you do decide to download the software those might be some things to try. By the sound of it, you might find them more useful than I did. :)

G.P. Ching said...

Interesting. When I write, I "see" scenes. I write those scenes on index cards. I order the cards. Then I disregard all of them as my characters take me wherever the hell they want to go.

J. Noel said...

Jenn: Plotting really can be hell...especially when you get "stuck."

Yoyo: Yes! Read Kenyon. She's also very accessible, as I correspond with her via Facebook too. Her blog is great as well.

G.P.: Thanks for stopping by! I tried note cards too, but geez, I kept losing them!

Mark Edwards said...

Oh yes, I agree Kay is great, both at writing and her generosity with her time as well.
For Angel Odyssey, I started with the 'Snowflake Method'. That gave me the structure I was lacking in Smooth Running. It also gave me a separate document with a list off all the main characters and most of my secondary characters as well. I use that doc as my notepad to keep track of timelines, names, world jargon and the like.
Glad to hear you can type fast. That is a survival skill. I want to have as few interferences between my brain and the page.

Mark Andrew Edwards

cube said...

You sound like me. I find that a three-ring notebook with tabs is a good way to keeping track of everything.

J. Noel said...

I'm so visual. I'm thinking of something like a bulletin board or something too. As of right now, I actually do keep everything in a binder!

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