Here we are without any further distractions. As agreed we are here to discuss more of my crazy, erratic, novel writing methods. This is Part 3 of the insight view into my exact process of novel writing. I had only planned for this to be a three part analysis, but it looks like you will have the pleasure of looking forward to at least one more part after this one.
Now that we know how I plan and outline and then re-outline let’s actually progress to how I write the story itself. I am a high particular fan of writing everything by hand. My novels are no different. First and foremost I use pen and paper. I outline and plan by hand and so it’s only natural that the story gets written by hand as well.
I know how to type and I think I do so pretty well, but I conducted a small experiment one day. Instead of writing the chapter by hand first, I decided I was going to type it right off the bat and see what kind of difference there was if any at all. Well let me tell you guys something. There was a major difference, several in fact and I caught onto them immediately. The creative flow wasn’t, well… fluent. I had trouble advancing my characters from scene to scene and I couldn’t see far enough past their present to allow any kind of foreshadowing. By the time I felt it right to end the chapter I was exhausted and only then did I realize that chapter that I had decided to type first had only maxed a little over 2,000 words. When writing by hand I max anywhere from 4,000-6,000 without forcing any of the scenes or character interactions. Let’s just say that experiment was a failure and I haven’t attempted to type a chapter first again. So yes, I write everything by hand and just like with typing there isn’t a real way to start. You just bang out the first sentence and the rest soon follow.
As you can imagine, when writing by hand you don’t have the luxury of using the backspace, or the spellchecker or any of the other nifty little technology hacks many like to use as they write their story. Once the sentence or paragraph is written it’s quite difficult to add other sentences or thoughts attached to that particular area in the story. When typing you can just place the cursor where you want it and add a new sentence or two. When writing by hand by the time you say, “hey, that would have been a great scene or dialogue to add,” you have already written the next several sentences.
For these exact situations I keep a pile of sticky notes on hand. When I realize something that I want to add, be it a new scene, character thought, dialogue, or just a continuation of the thought line from three sentences previous, I pull up a sticky note, write out what I want to add, and then slap it onto the page in a somewhat understandable proximity to where that piece needs to be added to the story and then I continue on writing as if I had not paused for a brief second.
I also like to keep a yellow highlighter close by me. Yes, I know it’s a sin to edit as you write, but the highlighter isn’t an editing tool for me… precisely. When I’m writing I already have a clear view of where the story will be headed many chapters ahead and even the more major areas of the story later on, so when I write something that could potentially be used as foreshadowing I highlight it in yellow and then I write out the sentence or sentences that show the foreshadow into my novel, notes journal and then describe exactly how it would foreshadow later on. Every highlighted piece may not ever be used later as foreshadowing, but some of them have contributed in a later part of the story, be that a couple pages over, several chapters later or if I plan on using it toward the end somehow.
Writing by hand is a bit slower and chapters can take up several days to write. But once I have deemed a chapter complete I then type it up into the computer as written (remember no editing as you go, even if you are typing up from a written form) because technically for me, it’s all still the first draft.
Once I have the chapter written up I then save it to three different places. First, a computer file. Then onto two separate flash drives because in my experience you can never be too safe… I’ve lost stories too many times when they are only saved in a couple of places. Thousands and thousands of words and worlds lost forever because I wasn’t careful enough. Take it from me… SAVE. YOUR. WORK. IN. MORE. THAN. ONE. OR. TWO. PLACES!
That is all I have for you today. I will have a Fourth Part up at some point and hopefully that will be the end of ‘Planning That Novel’
However, we have officially entered NaNoWriMo Prep season and I have a new system this year for getting ready and organized for November’s 50K words in 30Days Challenge. I hope you all tune in throughout October and November for my adventures and hopefully survival through 2014’s NaNoWriMo.
You can look forward to my NaNo Prep series with the first post to be up October 3rd.