The first seeds of my WIP plot line were planted in March 2014. I had an outline completed by May, but it wasn’t until the following May that my outline had been successfully converted into a 70,000 word manuscript. Since then, my story has seen three more drafts and lots of changes (including 10,000 additional words).
As I approach the next stage of my novel writing journey, I often find myself reminiscing about the early days. It was teaching my 9th grade biology students a lesson on overpopulation that first sparked the idea for my book. I’d tried and failed to write novels before, so I decided to take a more organized approach this time. I started by loosely following Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. I kept all my ideas in a notebook that I’m still writing in today. A few days ago I found myself reading through the whole thing. The experience was pretty surreal. It’s amazing to see how much I’ve learned over the past two years. It’s also great fun to see how far my plot has drifted from my original ideas, but at the same time, still rests on those original building blocks. I’ve got other fun stuff in that notebook too, one of my favorites being a list of songs that fit the vibe of my story. There are several tracks from The Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, and Citizen Cope. At some point I think I’ll actually download all the songs, but for now, I’m still adding to the list. Recent additions: Let it go- James Bay, Family and Genus – Shakey Graves, Broadripple is Burning – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, and Is This How You Feel? – The Preatures.
What artists or songs would make the ultimate music playlist for your story?
I haven’t gotten off to the greatest start this week but I did surpass my goal for today. Part of the problem is that I’m rapidly approaching the end of my detailed outline. I think I’m going to devote tomorrow to outlining alone. Ideally I’ll do this and still find a way to meet my word count goal for the week (5,250), despite skipping two days of working on my draft but it certainly isn’t the end of the world if I don’t.
I woke up at 8am yesterday, super pumped for World Cup Group G play. Germany was to play Portugal at 12 and I had a doctor’s appointment at 10:30. In the extra time before/after my doctor’s appointment, I added a total of 55 words to my draft and spent about an hour adding to my outline. The morning/afternoon was spent napping and watching the early games. At four, the bf and I headed out to a great bar (Brewhouse Cafe for soccer fans in the Atlanta area) to watch the game. We were there at 4:30 and the game started at 6 but it was PACKED. I laughed when I saw that the maximum capacity sign said “120 persons.” Right. People were spilling into the street. It was awesome… but it was also over 90 degrees, with no where to sit and no good view of the game. We squeezed around, hopelessly asking if random seats were taken before eventually landing in the edge of the parking lot, trying to convince ourselves that that particular spot “wasn’t that bad.” Finally, my boyfriend took a look at his phone and said, “If we leave right this second, we can make it home before kick off.” I was on the move immediately. It sucked to leave the fun energy of the crowd, but it would suck more to not be able to see the game… or pass out from heat exhaustion half way through.
Seven days ago I started tracking progress on my manuscript. I set a goal to write a minimum of 500 words a day for a total of no less than 3,500 per week. When I made the goal, I said I would adjust it if I was able to write significantly more. I want my goals to be achievable but also challenging. I surpassed my goal by 2,385 words, which tells me that I am easily capable of writing more than 500 words a day. For this reason, I am raising my goal to 750 per day/5250 per week. We’ll see how it goes. I know I seem ridiculously obsessed with the numbers right now, but again, my biggest (and very realistic) fear is not being able to finish this manuscript, despite having some really great ideas. My plan is to do daily check ins for one more week (we’ll see, I might have to return to my detailed outline sooner than that). After that, I’d like to see if I am disciplined enough to meet my goals without these frequent updates.
Words have been spilling from my fingertips the last couple of days. I’ve really gotten into a grove and I’m learning so much about my main character. She’s been struggling with some rough stuff lately, but I’ve enjoyed watching how she molds into a rounder character. I’m finding myself looking back at my outline and saying things like, “Oh, she wouldn’t do/say that,” which is a good thing. It means she is developing and I have to adjust as she develops.
Previous word count: 10,061
Current word count: 11,483
Today’s Progress: 1422
Weekly Progress thus far: 5312
Challenges: I have some big concerns about pacing. I’m worried I’m rushing through some scenes, but I’m resisting the urge to read back through it. I’ve just made a mental note to be sure to flesh out the things that need fleshing out and trot on through the things that don’t.
I’m looking forward to Father’s day tomorrow. I have plans with my stepdad in the morning and my father in the afternoon. The evening will be spent with my manuscript, soccer (the World Cup has not disappointed! Thrill after thrill!) and Game of Thrones (Season finale! Pumped!). Sounds like a great day.
After reading through various books, websites, and blogs, I realized if I want this novel writing thing to pan out, I needed to begin with an outline. I’d never done this before and all my other attempts to complete a book failed. It was definitely worth a shot. I settled on using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. I already had a notebook with some chunky ideas about where I wanted to go with the story before I started outlining. These ideas matured and evolved as I went through the steps of the Snowflake Method.
I didn’t follow each of his steps exactly (he notes repeatedly to do what works for you), but I pretty much began by writing a one sentence summary of my novel. That was challenging. The first “sentence” I wrote looked more like a paragraph. I felt pretty accomplished once I was able to condense it down into something concise yet still representative of my story. (more…)