Cassy’s Castle- Launching the Next Project
A number of weeks ago, gosh it might be months ago, I wrote on how I structured my approach to a new book. As I’m in that process once again, it’s on my mind. So, bear with me if this seems redundant compared to prior posts, but each book is its own baby of sorts. My last manuscript has been edited more times than necessary (yet I still saw a typo yesterday) and it was time to give it a kiss and send it to my agent. Now, I face a blank screen and am starting the next. There is always a “next.”
As I have mentioned before, I am a plotter. I need to know what the overall story is, who is in it, what the larger goals of my characters will be, and who the bad guy is. I can’t just sit and write. I learned that the hard way.
I have done NaNoWriMo twice. That’s the 50,000 words-in-a-month international push that takes place in November. You can Goggle it and learn all about it. Many folks find it wonderful. I did too. That was until my second year. My first year was exhilarating. I produced 1500 to 2000 words a day! I told my family to disappear. We ate very simply. And, I have a “certificate” to prove I did it. That wonderful story lives happily filed in my drawer and most likely will live there forever.
The second year I also completed my 50,000 words. Yeah! Well, it took me over a year to edit those pages to create anything coherent. I was so focused on the word count that the plot and character arcs were muddled. I wrote great scenes (yes, they were pretty darn good) but one didn’t tie well with the next. I printed out each scene then laid them across my dining room table like playing cards. I rearranged them. I sorted them. I retyped them. I made notes on what was missing. I could have written two more books with the energy I put into trying to fix that one.
For the last book I have written I took a very disciplined approach. Well, sort of disciplined. I used a combination of Karen Wiesner’s (First Draft in 30 Days) view of the world and Alexandra Sokoloff’s screenwriting wisdom. I put a very short synopsis smack in front of my face. My character arcs were clear. I had stickies lined up in tight rows guiding me through each climax, turning point, and resolution. I had a second row of stickies in a different color reminding me of issues that weren’t resolved. Can you see what the large round table in my house looked like? I happened to be out of the country when I was doing this. So I also ended up buying a child’s school notebook so I could get all the stickies home in order and in good shape. Then my home office became decorated with the little notes lined up across the wall. The warnings were issued—touch those bits of paper and you are the next dead body in my book!
Okay, I know it’s a bit overkill (pun intended), but it was a wonderful lesson for me. I can’t do the chaos of NaNoWriMo. The clean-up is too time costly. The excessive planning of my last book was a little over the top. But there is some middle ground.
So now I am starting again with a new story. Yes, it also takes place in Italy so stay tuned. But, I am finding MY way to do this. I am in the midst of plotting. I have a large stack of stickies and note cards- can’t give those up. My family has been threatened again to not play games with me and rearrange anything in my office. But, I am now also trusting myself a tad more. I’ve written seven books. I might not need to keep referring to the “experts.” Maybe now I am learning my own approach to getting the words on the page. We’ll see. I’ll let you know when I get to type THE END. for this one.