Before you even put fingers to keyboard you should have your storyline sketched out, your scenes, your characters profiles, your flow – of course this is not fixed, you can and will change it as you go along and get new ideas.
I want to admit straight away that I did not do this with my first book, and from my conversations with writers I know that most writers start out in a much more haphazard way just typing away and seeing where their fantasies take them.
When I was a practising lawyer in the UK I had a poster on my wall. It said “You should plan for all eventualities and anticipate any hold-ups, but when you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember that the original intention was to drain the swamp”. This is the situation we find ourselves in so many times. We (or our writings) have taken an unexpected turn, or we have writers block because we cannot work out what happens next, or, worst of all, we end up rewriting large parts of our book to put it back on course.
In learning how to go forward for my second book want to pay tribute to the following writers and teachers – much of what appears here I have learned from them, but I have tailored it to suit my lazy, butterfly-like tendencies – I am after all a Gemini with a short attention span.( In our defense, I am told we Geminis make good lovers, but perhaps that’s the subject for another blog!) For more in depth study I suggest you visit Joanna Penn, Shelley Hitz, Jonathan Gunson and the girls at Duolit. Their writings have assisted me greatly along my journey.
I started my second book in a much more methodical way and am trying to follow a plan – but I still allow myself to fly off in a different direction sometimes, good ideas can come to you at any time and you have to be flexible.
I will outline to you the methods I now use to try to plan my work. I do not stick rigidly to this, but I do try – and the discipline certainly helps in getting the word count up and I rarely get writers block or lack direction (in my writing). I certainly do not lack direction at all in other areas of my life, I always have about ten directions that I am going in at the same time).
Ok. It is time to start to plan. For this you will need a scientific calculator, one pencil, four erasers and two headache pills.
One of the things I have learned after writing my first 127,000 word piece of brilliance is that the optimum length should be about 80,000 - 100,000 words. So this is my aim for my second shorter, but equally brilliant opus.
I also decided to divide it into three Acts (Beginning, middle and end, Duh...), with four chapters in each Act and then to divide the actions and event within the chapter into about twelve scenes.
For me, the Acts are just a way of thinking and organising, they will not appear in the book – just the usual list of chapters. You may end up with 11 or 13 chapters. As I said before – do not be rigid, you are producing an original work of literature, not following the plans to build a do-it-yourself bookshelf.
I like my scenes to be 800 – 900 words long, so, (time for the scientific calculators) roughly 9 or 10 scenes will be in each chapter.
I have on my wall a long sheet detailing (in just one sentence) each scene in each chapter – all in pencil because it is frequently changed. I know many of you will be laughing at me and planning to do all of this on a spreadsheet – go ahead, the result will be the same – except you will not need to buy erasers. I guess it’s time to confess my technophobia – a great problem – I think that in these days of internet marketing, a technophobic writer is like an airline pilot with a fear of flying, but never mind, I struggle on.If you have either followed or chosen to ignore the suggestions above you will be ready to start.
Next week I will discuss the challenges of motivation, deadlines – frankly just how you can keep going until your first draft is finished. We will discuss methodology, motivation and discipline – no,no, you erotic writers can put your whips away – it’s not THAT sort of discipline.
So join me same time, same channel next week – and don’t forget to sign up for the blog over there on the right – in case you miss it – the usual freebie will wing it’s way to you soon after you have registered.