Wednesday, February 5, 2014

January in Review -WRoE

Text View
 I finished January better than I anticipated. I just did the calculation of the total words written on my Primary Project and, although I would have liked to have done more, I'm happy with the outcome. For January I wrote 5,798 new words in The Dream Stealer. My challenge with my friend, Doug, seems to be working but he's way ahead in terms of words written. 

From the beginning, Doug's goal was to just write, daily. Mine was to write at least 500 words three days a week and edit a chapter. So, I wasn't just writing new material, I was editing old material. Scrivener doesn't count that. If you delete a word and add two new ones, you've only added one word to the work. A couple of times I was down 100 words! I started redlining words I was going to delete and that solved my deficit problem. 

I was thinking in terms of finishing a "chapter" a week but quickly realized this might not work. I don't have chapters. I have a bunch of scenes, lots of them. And many of them are out of sequence in the document. There's a post somewhere, either here or on Life on the Ledge about how that came about. Anyway, I decided to stick with the concept of three scenes to a chapter. Scrivener is awesome the way I write. 

I set up folders for my theoretical chapters and started sorting my scenes. Another problem presented itself. I was still having to read each one to find out where it fell in the order. This is tedious, especially if you have "Chap 1, Chap 2, Chap 3, etc. You'll understand in a minute.

corkboard view
There is a great corkboard feature in Scrivener that lets me see index cards with details about each scene or chapter, not both at once. So, if you're looking at chapters and there are three scenes, you only see the chapter descriptions in one view. If you go to text/scene view you only see the scenes in a single chapter. And sorting the myriad scenes in a chronological order was giving me a headache of global proportions. This was the wall I'd been coming up against for several years. 

Outline View
The outline view is astounding once you fill out the synopsis cards. With color coded file labels and synopsis cards filled in you can use outline view to get an idea of the flow and if something is out of place, you can see it pretty quickly. Wonderful. But totally impractical when you're still getting things in the right order. 

Chapter/scene headings
See, you have to move the stuff around. And yes, I could do that but it wasn't working for me for two reasons. Remember those titles? Yeah, you have to re-order them and type the correct chapter number every time you move something. I learned that a while back and stopped putting chapter numbers and went with character names. Equally as annoying since you may have 20 Simon scenes and 20 Cameron scenes and you have no idea what is in them! Yes, Scrivener can number and probably reorder for you but I am a control freak. 

Chapter/Scene headings in Text/scene view
The second reason was that I also write things that are missing while I'm sorting. For example, I might have three "chapters" in order but as I read over them, I realize some are missing some pieces or are not clear. So, I stop and write that bit. In outline mode, that's just a hassle for me. I have to switch views and I would have to switch views every time I changed chapters or needed to write something. You might find it ok but I didn't like it. I need to be in text mode to write and rearrange sections/chapters as needed.

About the third week of January, I stumbled on an idea. I decided that my problem was time. In this story, things are happening in a relatively short span of time and there are four very vocal characters who are doing things at the same time in different places. I have always known that this was a problem with the story but I simply couldn't find a work around without creating this elaborate time line and keeping it handy to refer to every time I wrote something, moved something, or deleted something! Look, I didn't choose to use four POVs. Who'd do that? But they just won't shut up. And yes I know it is insane but you write your story and ...well... we'll write ours. Anyway, I knew I had to nail down the timeline if I was ever going to get this mess sorted. 

Note: time has replaced "chapter" headings
So, I had this idea. Really, an epiphany. I would use the day and the time of the events as chapter and scene headings, breaking it down to minutes if I wanted. I began to go through each scene and establish when it was happening. I had several things going on at once but once begun, everything began to fall into place and it was like someone turned on the light. 

I was astounded how I began to get ideas and could actually move stuff out that either was in the wrong time frame or didn't even belong in this story. I was deleting more stuff and writing new stuff. All because I now had a time line in place to tell me where someone needed to be and when! It occurred to me that this should have been obvious sooner because the MC, Simon, is such a control freak he'd never go anywhere without some sort of calendar, either on his phone or in his head. And so would his former friend, Cameron. 

The best part is that the chapter/scene headings can remain in the final draft as "chapter" divisions.  I won't have to rewrite names over and over. Although, early in the process of establishing times, I've had to move things backward. By that I mean, I originally started the story on a Friday. You can see I've since pushed it back in the week. I've also moved some things back on the clock here and there. I may have to change heading if something needs to be moved on the timeline but that's still easier that the way I was doing it. 

At our last meeting, I told Doug that time was really arbitrary. It doesn't really matter when it happened as long as, from that point on, it is consistent. And day and time is much easier than reordering a bunch of numerically ordered chapters. 

So, there you have a review of what I did in January. In hindsight I can see I've done a lot. I've broken a rule here in that I've written about writing rather than writing the story. But I wanted to put something positive up that I could review when I get down on myself about how much I've accomplished. 

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