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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh dear...

I'm afraid no one sent me a first page. Which means I have to post something useful.

Well, how about this: I'll tell you how I plotted and finished my last novel. Keep in mind that actually finishing a book, is quite a feat. Lots of people try and fail. I tried a number of times before succeeding. But...I have to say it ended up being easier and quicker doing it the way I did it this last time, the new way, which involved plotting before pantsting.

For me this meant figuring out what would happen in each and every chapter. Not necessarily every little thing (because I haven't quite given up pantsting altogether), but the major event that moves the story along.

Of course plot gets you nowhere without characters, and this massive questionnaire I got from K.M. Weiland proved to be invaluable.



For example, in addition to the usual questions about my character's physical attributes, this questionnaire asked things like this (my answers are in italics):

Current address and phone number: at the start of the story she doesn’t remember.
 
Strongest/weakest character traits: her impulsivity which gets her into trouble but also makes her brave.

Talents: A sense of direction – and it is this which keeps confirming the way to go. It takes her a little while to recognize it but her internal compass is telling her the right way to go, however much she doubts. 

These are just a few of the many questions that helped make my main character more complex, and more real. The interesting thing was that simply by answering those questions I came up up with more questions as well as scenes, backstory, reasons, goals, etc. These in turn helped flesh out the chapters, which made it easier to write. I won't tell you how many revisions later it is but I will say this method allowed me to finish in a little over a year. 

I like my new method so much I'm employing it with my next work.


What's your method? What works for you, helps you finish?

9 comments:

Patchi said...

I let the story ruminate in my head for a while before I even attempt to write it. I deem it ready when it keeps me up at night several nights in a row. In terms of writing, what works for me is to pantst in a notebook then put all the notes and scenes in order when I type them up. That's what I consider my outline/rough draft. By that time I know enough of the story that I can fill in the gaps and work on characterization and setting.

And if you want to critique my 2nd page (you did the 1st already), I can send it to you ;)

mshatch said...

by all means send the second page! I'd much rather crit than have to come up with another useful/interesting/helpful post for tomorrow :)

Patchi said...

Don't tempt me too much or I'll end you the whole novel :)

Patchi said...

...send you...

Liz said...

I'd send you mine, but then I'd have to figure out which one (there are three, no four novels from which to pick), and they're not nearly ready for critique. They're not done yet.

Jess said...

Oh goodness, I'm still working on a method. I've tried character questionnaires before and always get burned out on them before I finish all of the characters~ it's almost like I need to write the story first to get to know them, rather than get to know them and then write the story. Not helpful or practical, I know :)

mshatch said...

Whenever you're ready...

mshatch said...

It did take a while and in all honesty I didn't completely finish them before I started writing the story. But then, any time I stalled, even a little, I'd go back and work on some more questions which pushed forward again. I don't think I was ever stalled for more than 24 hours, which is pretty good for me.

Huntress said...

Well my ears pricked when I read this bit of info. Thanks Marcy.