Notice how the NaNoWriMo word count indicators have shaded from Yellow on Sunday (Nov. 3) to Orange on Monday (Nov. 4)? I was at “par,” 5085, on Sunday but I’d gotten a little ahead so I didn’t have to write all 1,667 words, hence the warning yellow sign. Monday’s par was 6667, but I wrote a paltry 470 words. Orange alert!
I haven’t blogged a lot about my writing process. This is mostly because I haven’t had one, at least not one that my screenwriting teacher would recognize. My “process” consisted of spilling out words until I reached my goal for the day. Last November, I simply started a new file for each day — when I had 30 files with 1,667 words in each I was finished. That was a nightmare to try to work with in revision!
In July, I wasn’t much better. I managed to split my writing at natural scene breaks (change in time or location) but after I fell behind by about 3000 words I made no effort to record what I will call metadata (for lack of a better term.) I stopped making character or location notes, I stopped summarizing scenes and chapters; I just let Scrivener fill in its outline with the first few sentences of each.
I am dreading falling behind because at least for the first four days of November, I actually HAD a writing process. It went rather like this:
I start writing some words. Oh, this seems to be a historical fantasy story — how interesting. Wow, there’s my character from two novels back, with a different name and a story that suits him, rather than me trying to shoehorn him into a novel where he doesn’t belong. And here’s another main character. Dang, that’s one uncomfortable situation they’re in there.
I continue spitting out words until I need to change time or location, then start a different scene (in a different Scrivener document in my project.) When I pass 1,667 words, I stop, and make notes on each character, make notes on my locations, and set keywords on the scenes I’d written to connect them to the appropriate notes. I also fill in the synopses for the scenes (and chapters!) with actual summaries of the action, rather than letting Scrivener fill it in for me with the first sentence or so of the text.
The net result is that I have an outline of what I’ve written that is actually coherent. Starting revision from this will be 100 times easier than going back through the massive blocks of text I wrote in November 2012, and 10 times easier than starting from the essentially blank outline of July 2013. I’ve even started thinking about structure, saying things to myself like, “Gee, I gotta get the major conflict in and obvious by Day 7…”
I don’t want to go back to neglecting my outline to get my word quota done. My problem: life has started happening. For some reason, the rest of my life doesn’t stop just because I have a draft to get out…