Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Next Set of Goals

Yesterday I got one-line descriptions of the scenes in Part 2 and put them into what I think is the right order, and also redid the problem-solution chain for this chunk of the story. The overall arc has remained intact, but a few of the originally planned scenes have been dropped or combined with other scenes, and I added two new scenes. Most of these changes are a result of my rethinking a secondary character who now enters the story in Act II rather than the end of Act I.

I've worked out the next steps to take; I'll update here as I work on them.

3/6 8:45pm update.
3/7 8:40pm update.
3/8 9:35pm update. (Don't worry: this will be the last of the multi-colored updates! I'll start a new post tomorrow focusing on my remaining goals for the week.)

1) Add Akenam's static trait details to Part 1; backup again DONE. Easy fix.

2) Do a little work on themes-- make sure they're as tight and relevant as I can get them DONE. I googled some quotes about Truth, Love, and Power, for ideas and wording and got better versions of my three themes written. 

3) Character work: finish revising emotional toolbox for the 4 major supporting characters; DONE. do some additional sketching of Saadia, the character that has changed significantly since I did my initial character work last summer DONE. I fleshed out a little backstory motivation for her.

4) Spin first 5 scenes

5) Begin information file, to track facts/details/clues to be included in Part 2 IN PROGRESS: I've entered all the categories of info into a file, but haven't listed much yet.I'm calling this DONE. I'm sure I'll add to the list as I spin scenes and fill out scene sheets, but I've got down as much as I can think of right now. It's not nearly as much stuff as I needed to drop in Act I, so that's a relief.

6) Do full scene sheets for first 5 scenes

7) Read Goal, Motivation & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon.  I've been reading good things about this book for years, but it's out of print and I wasn't willing to shell out like $60 for a used copy. Then I found it at Gryphon Books and I just got my copy in the mail today! IN PROGRESS: I'm on page 81 of the 122 I want to read now (the later chapters are about synopsis writing). DONE.

Another additional goal:
8) Create GMC charts like the ones in the book for my five major characters, and fill in the charts as I finish each chapter. IN PROGRESS: I have goal and motivation for all, and am almost done with conflict. Then I need to add a second layer to Willa and Akenam's charts, since both of them acquire new goals at the mid-point of the story. DONE. This was a great exercise for highlighting both where I have a firm grasp on the story and where I'm shakier. I had Willa and Tom's GMC pretty much right already, but it helped me to make better sense of what I want to do with Akenam. And it really helped me work out more of the romance arc. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.


  1. Lianna,
    It sounds like you really have the plot and characterization laid out so clearly that your every day writing will be HUGELY effective, without a lot of time wasted creating scenes that end up being dumped later because the story has gone down an unexpected path. I think that all this work you are doing on the structure and on the mapping of the time line and on thoroughly understanding the motivations of your characters, will totally payoff for you in the end.

    I never thought of myself as a pantser, but I really see now that I have been one. I know this is why I have been having SO MUCH difficulty with my plot and with the motivation of my villain--in short, I have no idea why he killed the hero's family in the back story. I have a lot of amorphous, half formed impressions, but so far none have seemed like "the one". I can't believe I am a hundred pages in and have no idea what motivated the villain to do the terrible things that he did. I guess I hoped that I would figure it out as I got closer to the climax and the grand unmasking, but that is just dumb.

    Ugh. I have a lot of work to do this weekend. At least I have some tools that I think might help me. Thanks again for the recommendation of The Weekend Novelist. I'm nearly finished with it and I have laid out a game plan for this weekend that will put some of the strategies in place. I especially like the straight time line exercise, the scene exercises, and the spinning down the page practice.

    Anyway, I hope you have a really productive weekend :)


  2. Kristin, I sympathize with reaching the great "ta-DA!" scene and then not knowing what the ta-DA! is. My first, still uncompleted novel has that problem: I've been writing it on and off for YEARS and am still shaky on who the antagonist is and what he wants. I completely pantsed the first draft of that book (my first NaNoWriMo), and while it was a valuable experience, I don't think I'll ever choose that path to building a story again. It was just too much damn work to revise when so much of the original draft was unsalvageable, and I got burned out on the story multiple times because it was taking so long to fix and I'd already spent so long working on it. I don't doubt that a lot of writers can write a good book from a pantsed draft, but I don't seem to be one of them.

    Oh, and I meant to reply to your comment about the writer's conference in VA: it sounds wonderful, but sadly I just don't have the money this year. That's why I'd love to find something in New England: if I can drive rather than fly, I might be able to swing it. Ideally it would be in the Boston area, since my mom lives there and I could stay with her and not even need a hotel room.