Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Process Examination #11: Notebooking Again

It's funny. Now that I'm fully into draft composition mode and buckling down for a regular writing schedule, I managed to forget the tricks that did well during pre-writing and the initial stuttering. For example, while laying down the law for my writing times, I went on about this "freewriting" thing. It was a good idea at the time, born out of a feeling that I should be writing at the computer during my writing time, even if it's just brain spew vaguely or not at all related to the novel. I never kept myself to that concept of getting the fingers typing, though, and I didn't really need it until Sunday. And I just froze up.

Now, part of the problem was that I had just picked up J.R. Ward's latest Black Dagger book, and those books are like crack. I can't really explain it. I seriously can't put those books down. As a writer, I want to know how this is done so I can do it in my books. Is there some subliminal printing thing going on? Are the pages dipped in a narcotic? Maybe the ink is laced with something that forces the eyes to follow it? I can't even pin down the story elements and the construction that really grabs me. That's how totally I get sucked into these books. If my interest wanders at all, I can usually figure out why, but that doesn't happen often. At any rate, being in the middle of this book did not make it easy for me to immerse myself in my writing on Sunday.

But I finally figured out that the bigger problem was that I hadn't notebooked the upcoming scenes and chapters at all. I don't mean outline. What I write for notebooking is taking a general concept of what has to happen in the next scene (sometimes it's as broad as "Jasper is the next POV character; need some action and plot revelation here") and then I sketch out ideas as they come. It really ends up sounding like a conversation (details are variabled out so as to prevent spoilerage):

Maybe I should have Jasper say this while doing that, and Celestina gets pissy?

No, because then she'd never let him do that other thing, and that has to happen in this chapter or else the next chapter isn't going to flow.

OK, so maybe Jasper does X because of A that happened ten years ago, and Celestina was part of bringing A down on his head, so she gets to grin and--

WAIT, Lutgard shows up and totally has to say E while doing Y so that Celestina gets G piece of information that Jasper completely misses, but he gets H piece of information, and so does the reader so Elzie's next chapter makes sense.

Me rikey.

Don't worry if you didn't get that. Chances are, in another couple of months, I won't get it either. But it's exactly what I need right now in order to write the next scene. And when I set up my writing schedule last week, I completely forgot to work time in for that. Not that I need a lot of time. I can usually get the notebooking done in the first half hour or so I sit down to write and then still make my minimums. Or I drag out the notebook during the day and scribble stuff down as I'm working or running after Drewbie.

I'm sure when I get to the end of draft comp and also during revisions that I will have similar process examination posts that amount to a "Duh!" with regards to forgetting about the power of notebooking. Maybe I'll be quicker on the uptake next time.

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