Do you want to be a writer? Do you want to write a book people would like to read? I know I do. And on my quest to create a readable book, I have learned many tips and tricks and gained some valuable knowledge on the does and don'ts in writing. I'd love share all that with you.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Planning as I go

I am a plotter.
I have always been one. And an obsessed plotter to boot.
Even my outlines have outlines.
And it's not just a catchy phrase. I mean it. I plan my outline, before I write it down.
I have needed that plan, I have needed to know where the story going and what will happen on the way.

The cooperative book writing project I am involved in, together with a bunch of other insanely talented people, has proved to be a really eye-opening experience.
It has forced me to step outside my comfort zone.
It made me embrace a whole new writing style - it turned me into a pantser.

When you are writing your book alone, you are already forced to face many challenges when planning it.
When there are more than ten people writing the same book, there is absolutely no chance to plan anything ahead.
Plot twists and unexpected changes are the daily bread of cooperative writing.
This project has allowed me to learn a lot about planning as I go.

I have made plans for my character and from the start they were all altered, changed and thwarted by my co-writers.

Here is my lame attempt at employing a meme to make my message seem funnier.
It did not get me down, the pantser in me that lay dormant, somewhere in the corners of my mind, woke up and took over.
I know that now, K (my character) is how he should be, and that his storyline is much more interesting.

I used to panic a little when my characters have done something unplanned that forced me to change my outline.
There was one more thing that helped me get over that fear, and that was NaNoWriMo.
No time was left for that fear. I had to write, plan as I went and do my best to create a story that had something resembling a plot.

Thought Shop came out better than I have expected. There is a lot to be done, to improve it, but the story sticks, and that makes me happy.

I am not saying that now I think, that planning is wrong.
Or that I no longer am a plotter.
It is like a road map that keeps me from getting lost.
Or like a safety net that won't let me fall.
But the lack of it no longer makes my knees shake.

It is a weird feeling, I must tell you, to step outside your comfort zone and discover that no monsters are lurking there.
Such fun :D

And one more thing.
I have lately discovered this little fellow: prowritingaid.com
I have found out which words I am overusing, that the pacing of my story is quite good, that I don't have many redundancies. But I have also found out that I like repeating some words in sentences that are close to each other.

Examples that can be found above: found out, words.

Right now the Though Shop's printout attempts to impersonate a rainbow.
I have used highlights and pens to mark adverbs, weak words, passive voice, sticky sentences, repeated words, sentences that slow the pacing of the story etc.

Advantages:
- I see on what I have to focus the most
- Different colours show me what needs to be done about the word/sentence/paragraph.

Disadvantages:
- I start to feel overwhelmed just by seeing the sheer amount of work that lays before me.

I will not let that get me down, though, this is just one more thing that is outside my comfort zone. And I will face it head on.
I have already started recruiting beta-readers for after I finish the editing and turn the horrible first draft into a readable second draft.
If you like horror stories, and you are willing to sacrifice your time and help me improve my book (I will probably start sending Thought Shop out in April) there is still a lot of time to apply.
If you are interested, and want to earn my gratitude, you can apply in the comments, or send me and e-mail to annmariescharf(at)gmail(dot)com.

I guess that would be it.
As a parting word, I'll tell you, that I must admit, that as my days get hectic,
- and I write now more in a day, than I used to write in a week,
- and I go to sleep at 01:00 a.m only to wake up at 6:30 a.m to go to my regular work,
- and I spend my time thinking about ways to make my character's life harder
I am happier than I have been in a long time.

I hope that you too, have something that makes you happy.
Everyone deserves to have something like that!

It was nice talking to you.
See you soon!

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