Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beats done!

I have just completed 6 1/2 beat sheets. On it is listed a scene or in my case for the most part a chapter with the purpose, the emotion, who's in it and what happens very briefly. It also has lots of change marks or 'axe this' or 'wtf?' or 'boring'. Here's the first impression before I really go in and deal with it - I like the story but the later middle part is a mess. I love the end. So I have to figure out what is wrong with that latter mid plot. I can do this. I think...
The weird thing is that even trying to do the beat sheet on that section got me stymied. Then I wanted to quit and take-up the accordion full time. But I didn't - I kept on going and now I'm glad. Because I like the story and I like the beginning and I like the end.
Let me ramble a bit will you? I know if I can just finally figure out the plot the rest is totally workable. Why do I have such problems with plot? For, dear readers, this is not a new problem. If you recall, back last year I decided to stop writing this book because I was stuck on the plot. I went off and wrote a mystery and then half of another. There, I thought, that'll do it. But it hasn't. It is still my problem. Let me reiterate - I have a story. So isn't that a plot? No, it isn't. Perhaps knowing this is all I'm going to get right now. We'll see. I might need to go back to my synopsis writing because maybe, just maybe, I skated over that part of the story and deluded myself in thinking it would all come out in the wash.
I'm not totally discouraged though. I don't want you to think that. Yesterday I was but not today. Today I'm going to take all these sheets and notes and post them somewhere I can see them all together (my wall? - no - a big poster board - maybe) and then it will just magically pop out at me. A big lightbulb will go off over my head and I'll see what I've been blind to all along. Yep. That's what'll happen all right.
If you're bored with this writerly whinging go on over to my other site and look at my whale pictures...
me having a thought!

More - I just took the sheets out - and posted them on my wall. I took down my original revision calendar (along with all sorts of other stuff to do so). I noticed that I'm supposed to be finished this revision in two and a half weeks. Ha! I now need to revise my revision schedule. Really. Argghh. Will do so now.
Here it is and I'll check off what I've done and then revise! Are ya bored out of your mind yet???

Week One:
1. Read through first draft with minimal markings - 6 hours
2. Analyse - with set of questions - Make sense? Like characters? Suspense? Flow? Stakes high enough? Plot hangs together? - 6 hours
3. Write three or four summaries of entire novel - up to 3 thou words each. - 12 hours - use 8 this week.
Week Two:
1. finish summaries - 4 hours
2. Choose summary most drawn to and fine tune - 10 hours - use this as road map for 2nd draft. Think this is where I went off the rails - didn't do this properly.

Note: So in the last two and a half weeks instead of following this plan, I've been working on the beat sheet which is all under plot revision, I think.
3. Character revision - 6 hours
Week Three:
1. Character revision continued - 14 hours
2. Plot revision - 6 hours
Week Four
1. Plot revision continued - 14 hours
2. The opening - 6 hours
Week Five
1. The middle - 6 hours
2. The end - 6 hours
3. Scenes - 8 hours
Week Six
1. The setting & description - 6 hours
2. Voice, Style, & POV - 6 hours
3. Dialogue - 6 hours
4. Theme - 2 hours
Week Seven
1. Theme continued - 4 hours
2. The Polish - 16 hours

Whew! This is what I think I need to do. I have two weeks before I go away. I am going to devote that entirely to cleaning up the plot thing. I'm going to look over this beat sheet carefully. I'm going to write yet another synopsis AFTER doing so. I'm going to refine it until I'm sure I've got it then I'm going in and make the structural and plot changes. Then I'm going to let it sit for a week while I'm away. On July 27th - I'm going to start Revision Take 2 -  I will take four weeks to finish . I will give myself 21hours a week. That's 3 hours a day and I will add more if needed to finish each section:
Take 2 -
  1. clarity & pace
  2. character & dialogue
  3. place and theme
  4. polish (language, word choice etc...)
That looks simple. Please tell me if I am crazy. Or don't. Entirely up to you. I mean why should you? I'm just muddling along and so are you, presumedly. Neither of us much knowing what we're doing but striving. Always striving. But are we the water rat or the toad? Are we the lion, the witch or the wardrobe. I mean the lion, the tinman or the scarecrow? Or do we have the audacity to believe ourselves to be Oz hizzelf?
For sure I'm going to do the two weeks on structure and plot. I firmly believe the rest will be fine once I whip that into shape. OK, now I'm going to have a drink. I'm bloody exhausted just thinking about the work I have.

                  
                     

10 comments:

Mary said...

You having a thought -- priceless!

Mary
Giggles and Guns

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm working the steps as well.

Talli Roland said...

Er... you kind of lost me somewhere along the way but I'm hyper-impressed with your planning! Good luck!

Timekeeper said...

Jane, I was fortunate to have a mentor to help me with stuff like that. I built houses and before I could go to work I had to build it in my head. Dotty, my mentor taught me little things that bring big success. The one for plot is "End of conflict, end of story." Even my 4th publication I sometime call on those words to help me.
I find it important to set aside a novel for two weeks and work on something else. Dotty taught me that too. It amazes me how I can go straight to the problem and fix it.
Also I let a caring writer/reader critique my work.
Best,
John

RosieC said...

I'm also highly impressed with your organization. Good luck!

Jan Morrison said...

Mary - it is really!
Alex - well a burden shared is a burden halved or some such aphorism...
Talli - I'm not surprised - I lost me too.
John - thanks for dropping by - my partner builds houses and we often talk about the similarities in our craft. I had my two weeks between first draft and this one and I'll have another one in two weeks. I hope I can attend to the structure before that but if not now - after! Mentors are great - I have a writer pal waiting for this second draft...
Rosie - I need Pluck but I think I know where to find some! Thanks.

Helen Ginger said...

You seem to be very structured and organized. I'm wondering if it would help if you didn't put the time constraints on it. Perhaps if you didn't think, I've got three hours to come up with this, the creative juices, as they say, would flow more naturally.

Straight From Hel

RosieC said...

PS--Stop by for my award post. Oh, and I must admit, I gave it back to you, but for this blog :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

This seems really organized, Jan, and I love the way you're attacking the problem instead of avoiding it!

Glad you didn't take up accordion playing. :)

Jan Morrison said...

Helen - yes, you're right. I usually ignore those anyway - I write them down so the bossy part of my personality will relax - then I let the kids out!

Rosie -thanks. I think!

Elizabeth - it feels fine this minute - my sense of self and decisions around the wip that is! Accordion playing is in my future though. I just want enough lessons to really nail a zydeco tune.