Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Story is Broken

I got the type-in done for the story breakdown. All those scribbles turned into an actual summary. Four pages, not bad. I have lots of extra ideas floating around, but for making the summary, I just kept it to the flow of the story, with the extra notes (e.g. a needed scene here, some background to flesh out there) written in as needed. All it is are some headers for each 'act' and a list of bullet points (in rough chronological order, sort of) of things that must happen, plus key scenes (where needed), and some other details.

Next is the breakdown of all the scenes. I may just type this one in, rather than handwrite first. It also depends on where I do it, as I'll take any level surface with a pad and pencil. I like to have control of the story, at least until some good ideas beat their way in and I have to include them. We'll see. For now, I'll stick to the plan.

I kept the summary to a five-act format that I tend to use for writing adventures and other things. Maybe I've just read too much Shakespeare, but the thought process of using 'acts' to break the story into manageable chunks seems to be working. I think of it like the film Star Wars IV: A New Hope, where you have the Tatooine section, the Death Star section and the final Space Battle section. Simplistic? Maybe. So far it's helping me frame the story and weed out weak portions or other inconsistencies or having the aliens arrive in chapter 14 (TM to Miss Snark for that one). that and the simple appearance of it belies the work involved to make the whole come together. It's that engineer thing. Start with the supports, the framework, then start laying in the electrics, the power transfer, then the inner and outer hull, etc.

Of course, all of this has raised more questions for world building, and I suspect there are some more secondary characters coming out of the woodwork somewhere in the middle, but that's all part of the fun. Those details can be cleaned up once the scenes are broken down.

Lots more to do, hopefully the trials of the day job will ease up a bit. A bit too much overtime lately has crimped the writing. Not only that, but were in a house crunch as well. With a baby on the way, that spare bedroom has to be cleared out and made ready. Since it's been a bit of a 'drop zone' while we worked on other areas of the house, it leads to the basement organization and that spills into the garage... well, you get the idea. It's been almost two years since moving in, and we still have a huge bunch of white walls. *sigh* All in due time.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A small taste

What a great day yesterday. I felt like I had a taste of the life of a full-time writer. My company has a policy of giving everyone their birthday as a day off. Very nice. The best part was that I spent the bulk of the workday writing. Aside from a short jaunt to take the car for an oil change, as well as walking my daughter to and from school, I had the day to myself to get some work done.

And boy, did I get work done. I took the original plot outline, and basically tore it apart and reassembled it. Combining the ideas generated by creating my main cast of characters, plus assorted brainstorms, as well as reviewing and wondering "what did I mean there?" I think I've managed to refine and clean the whole storyline. Funny how a lot of thinking and work boils down to four or five pages of notes. Doesn't look like much, but it's the quality that counts here.

Next step: let it lie and tomorrow, give it another pass, just to be sure, and then type it in so I can back it up all over the place. That final look is what I call the 'morning after' check, when painting models. Sure, when you've been milking the muse until 3am to finish that Necron lord model, you go back the next morning and put it under some sunlight, and you find a spot you missed and a few highlights to fix. Then it's done. But I digress.

After I've got the outline done, my next goal is to get every scene plotted out. It sounds a bit crazy, and I know I won't get every scene down on the list, but I have found myself to be more of a structural writer, I like to keep control and know where the scene is going. That said, I'm not going to be chained to the outline, just need a roadmap of sorts.

Not much done today, though. Must remember the mistake in having a middle-of-the-week vacation day. The day job was insane today, which sapped all the energy, not to mention the overtime. Ah well, must pay bills and such (repeat as required).