Tuesday, April 18, 2017

All The Ways To Procrastinate... That I Know

It is one of those days where I scheduled writing time and with good intentions, sat down in front of my computer. I really did intend to work on the novel. Really. I showered and had breakfast and read my Bible and was ready to go. 

9:00 a.m. I sat down to write. No, seriously, I did.
I checked my email. 
I checked Facebook.
I remembered I needed to take my meds.
I had to text Sarah's teacher.
I had to get something cold to drink.
I stopped to take my Humira shot. Ouch. The stomach is less painful than the leg, by the way.
Sarah's Mom replied to my text with several texts of her own.
I shopped on Amazon. I'll put the order in tonight.
I posted to Facebook.
Sarah's teacher replied to my text. 
I checked Goodreads and updated some stuff.
Mike came in and we talked and he kicked back in the recliner... for an hour. 
I checked email. 
I checked Facebook. 
I decided to write this post. 
I remembered that I need to call ChampVA about an insurance issue. That's probably a half hour wait time. 
I created the artwork for this post.

Now, I have a headache. Probably from looking at the screen so much.I probably should take something and lie down. I also need to finish putting away a load of laundry so I can wash the next load. And I have dirty dishes in the sink. The lawn needs mowing but I'll save that for later in the week  . . . when I need something to divert me. That's a two-hour job. 

I wonder what to prepare for supper?

Oh, I should probably work on the novel sometime.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Playing with the Grid

For several days I've been working on hanging my Long Summer Run novel on the Story Grid. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Shawn Coyne's website, The Story Grid or the podcast by the same name.

As I mentioned somewhere previously, I've been studying story structure for a few months now because I just felt I was missing something. Rather than wallow in self-pity and moan over my writer's block, I decided to do something constructive. So, I read Story Architecture, checked out Story Engineer, and started listing to the Story Grid podcast. Story Architecture helped me get a handled on different types of stories and plots. It is an exhaustive collection and well written and organized. Story Engineer was so poorly written I finally sent it back to the library less than half finished and feeling as if I'd never get it. After checking out the reviews of the book I felt better because I wasn't the only one.

Then, I found That The Story Grid wasn't just a podcast but there is a website and a book. Of course, I opted for the cheaper version. I visited the website and found the topics I'd listened to in the podcast and read up on them.

The sensation of dawning understanding is truly a beautiful thing. The sun came up and I think I actually smelled flowers. The breeze ruffled my hair. Things came together and made sense. Not everything but enough that I felt energized. As I listened to the podcast and read the articles, my mind was skimming through my novels and fitting the pieces together. Oh, this goes there. That fits there. That sort of thing. You know.

This week I sat down and began with The Long Summer Run. I wanted to start with them all. There's only seven. I forced myself to stick with one. For a few moments, I felt a bit squeamish. How was I going to do this? Coyne uses a Kubler-Ross Curve for Story. It would mean handwriting the whole process and I'm not up to that. Do I use an actual grid, like in Excel or do the curve? Since I use Scrivener I figured the ideal would be to use that. But how? It isn't like there's a template for it.

In the podcast, Coyne limits himself to the three act structure. At least in the ones I've heard thus far. The Story Architect also shows mostly three acts. In fact, it seems to be the universal norm, although there could be half a dozen acts. I decided to follow the herd.

I created three folders in Scrivener and titled them Act 1, Act 2, Act 3. Coyne talks about "The Math" and I encourage you to read that article on his site. He breaks down the construction so clearly that I decided to use the 100,000 word set up. This particular novel is almost that now. It may come out to less but I've got more to add and will just stick with this for now. It breaks down this way: 25,000 words in Act 1, 50,000 in Act 2, and 25,000 in Act 3. He says that the story may not line up exactly on that word count but if it is well structured, it will come close. The division is based on the length of the story and you'll understand better if you read the article. A good example would be if your story were 80,000 words. Then the breakdown would be  20,000 - 40,000 - 20,000. In my case, that would put my Act 1 over.

What I've been doing is moving my scenes into these folders based on where they fall in the structure. I've finished Act 1 and was surprised that my word count fell almost exactly on 25K, almost at the point it was supposed to end. I'm working on Act 2 now and the truth is, this is where the problems lie for me. I'll be interested to see how it comes out. I've actually got some of Act 3 written and as it seems I am at a point I'm ready to toss everything out the window, I may stop working on two and move to three to give me some balance.

Regardless of what I do next, this feels like this method will help me fix some problems so I can finish it and move on. I can already see a number of problems. Now I just have to figure out how best to solve them. The good news is it feels as if I can solve them.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekend Drama & Story Structuring

I've been working on The Long Summer Run this weekend. Saturday was the first time I was actually awake a whole day in a couple of weeks. I was able to do some planning here and there and Sunday I began to work on the structure and plot of the story. Not actual writing but some organization I've needed but didn't really understand how to fix until I started listening to a podcast called The Story Grid. It is based on the book by the same name and written by Shawn Coyne.

 On Saturday I cleaned, with the help of Sarah's mom. We're still good friends and she came and dusted, swept, and mopped - jobs that really cause me a lot of pain and fatigue. I rarely get through the whole house in one day. Sometimes I don't get through it in a month. I have a similar problem with putting away laundry. It is the bending motions of back and shoulders that do it.

The weekend was not without excitement. Becca was nearly finished with the floors and I was in the kitchen, putting away some things. I got my feet tangled in the vacuum cord and stepped in a bit of water on the floor. I was thrown off balance and since I was holding 10 lbs of oranges, there was no way to compensate. I did not bounce when I hit the floor but neither did I break. I did, however, feel it in ever inch of my body. Took several moments and two people to get me up. Mike had been working on the car and just as he came in I fell. So, between the two of them, they got me up and into a chair so we could determine the extent of the damage. Mostly bruises and by Sunday, a whole lot of stiffness and achiness.

I went to church on Sunday but left after the first service. I simply couldn't sit for another hour and a half. Everything was getting stiff and it was very painful. Getting up and down was difficult as my lower back, which had taken a licking the day before, was causing pain in my hips and legs. So, I came home, put the new recliner on the patio and carried out my computer. I stayed there all afternoon. I worked about two hours on the novel and I think it has helped me understand a few things. I knew that I had more to write but I couldn't figure out where some things went and how to get it organized.

Even though I've been writing stories for about 40 years, I didn't really understand story structure until recently. I think we inherently know the structure, at least I did. That's something I realized as I've been studying story structure for the last three months. Story structure seems to be mapped into our brains. That's my terminology.

I read The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell probably more than a year ago and based on that, I think that human beings are designed to tell stories and that story structure is probably just a part of us. However, I think it hasn't been clearly defined until Campbell's work. I could be wrong but I think his work is the first research of its kind to reveal that.

Anyway, since I've been studying it, three books later, I seem to be getting the idea. One book gave me a great explanation of the different types of story structure. Another one, Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks was so horrible at explaining it I couldn't get a quarter of the way through before I tossed it aside. Thank goodness I had checked it out of the library.

However, as I mentioned above, I stumbled on this podcast based on Shawn Coyne's book, The Story Grid and as I listened, and visited his website, something clicked. So, on Sunday, I sat down to look for some of the things he talked about and see if there were structured correctly. The story is a mess, as I knew, but one thing that began to show was I was very close in my structure to his example. Not in every instance but in some very important aspects.

I want to finish the basic outline (Scrivener helps with this) and get the whole story on the grid so I can clearly see where the fault lines are. They are many. This makes me feel much better about the story. If I can work on it every day, at least several days a week, I might have it done in a month. Of course, waking at 4 a.m. in terrible pain, as I did this morning, is not going to help matters. My hands are killing me as I type this but dictation is out of the question. I'm not waking the tiny blond beast down the hall this early. That would be as bad as the fire breathing dragon that woke me at 4 a.m.

I will stop now. I need another cup of Joe and prepare myself to face the beast in half an hour. Pray for me. She is not a morning person.