Writing progress. I have been working hard on the YA novel. I have gone through about 90% of the notes I have made over the years on VZ and transferred the keeper pieces of information to a variety of color-coded index cards. I’ve almost gone through 3 packs of cards. I need more of a couple of colors to finish off. I had already made the decision to toss all the old versions and start anew. But even after packing those old pages away I was left with a binder full of notes about characters and airplanes and various plot possibilities. Not all of it is usable but reading through it has helped me sink deeper into the story. Reading more about planes has helped me remember the initial pull to tell the story from 20 years ago. I have one colored card just for questions that need to be answered and as I went through the notes I’d find questions leading to more questions which lead to more plot points. I just kept jotting them on cards without trying to analyze them. That will come later.
I find it all very interesting to see that way my young writer mind worked back then – better in some ways (at taking notes) not so good in others (lots of cliche) but still workable. Still a very writeable story. A story I still want to tell. This is good news because for a while I wasn’t so sure. Anytime I have to do a lot of research for a book I reach a point where I don’t think I can do it. I get scared with all the facts that have to be perfectly correct and want to run and hide behind a story that just has to be emotionally correct. I think that’s why I wasn’t able to write this story before now – I just wasn’t writer enough to stand up to the material. To do it justice.
Jane Kurtz once told me that, “It isn’t just about telling the story but about becoming enough of a storyteller so that people will listen even to the hard things.”
That the kind of writer I want to be – one that compels you to keep reading even though you know some of the story isn’t going to be pretty. Am I still chasing demons of my own? Yes I am.
It sounds like you’ll have an amazing story at the end of all of this work.
I’m glad you’re now writer enough to take on the challenge!
I hope so. We’ll see at the end of it all but at least, for the moment, I have the confidence and that’s at least half the battle.
Wow! I admire all your note taking. And your system! Sounds like you are writer enough for the task!
It is so true that there is factual or historical truth as well as emotional truth to every story.
This notetaking is new. Everything about this book is new (except for the idea). But it feels “right” so I’m going with it.
Susan, this is al fascinating. I’m going to come back and read again when I’m not taking a break from Thanksgiving cooking! Wanted a diversion, but this demands much more.
Good luck with all the layers of your process and I hope, you, and me, get to fit a bit of good writing into the day!
Argh – I had a long post and LJ ate it. (the 3rd today.)
Basically I said that I think the fact that the plot is much more important in this book than it has been in other stories I have tried to tell demands a different system. I know a lot of other writers have used variations of this but it is a first for me. I will post more about it on Friday plus some pictures.
I, too, want to be that kind of writer. And I truly understand the struggle you’re talking about. I’m currently writing a chapter that’s especially painful. I find myself zooming in on all the peripheral details rather than going straight to the heart of the matter. I’ll eventually fill in all the important details, but first I need to prepare myself emotionally by locking in all the puzzle pieces around the edges.
Thank you, Melodye. I know the type of pain of which you speak. With Hugging the Rock I had to do just waht you said, dance around the story and each time, dance a little bit closer to the fire. It’s a long process but I don’t think I could have gone as deep any other way. I would have burst into flames instead. Of course a fabulous editor also helped me go even deeper than I imagined possible.
I appreciate your telling me this, Susan. It helps knowing that an accomplished author has gone through similar experiences. I miss my rock (Posy) so much in these moments.
You’re welcome, Melodye. I think it’s the best way to go deep, really, because each time you peel away another layer it leads you to more of the story. It’s all good. Not easy, but good.
And hugs right back at you. You were so blessed to have Posy in your life. I’m glad you shared a piece of her with me.
I recently finished writing a book that I originally conceived 20 years. I had this idea about a girl with a bad sense of direction and the the early versions were light without any layering/craft. Still a fun idea and one I never forgot.
A few years ago I brought out the story again, threw away everything except the basic idea, and wrote with deeper characterization and plotting. Still it didn’t work right away. But then in July I showed it to my editor who said he thought my MC was too whiny but if I rewrote her he was interested. So I rewrote, making her stronger, and my editor bought the book as the first in a series. The original title was TURN LEFT AT THE MILKY WAY (which I still like but it’s not a “selling title”). Now it’s DEAD GIRL WALKING…and will be out 2008, which is 20 years after I first subbed this idea.
If you want to read the difference 20 years makes, I posted both first pages on my MySpace blog (skip back a few entries) over at http://www.myspace.com/LindaJoySingleton .
Congrats on your writing!! Hope to see you at Asilomar. LJS
Thanks for sharing your story Linda Joy. And yes, I will totally be there at Asilomar. Looking forward to seeing you.
Yay for you. And cool quote!
Susan, I like your posts.
As an unpublished fiction writer, it gives me food for thought for ideas and crafting stories.
Thank you ~
Thank you for such kind words. I had hoped to have a longer post about plotting via index cards tonight but looks like it will be tomorrow.
I’m glad to know my words give you food for thought. 🙂