Monday, October 5, 2015

Diving into process

I still haven't quite found a novel writing method that reliably works for me. I inevitably end up pulling apart huge chunks of my first drafts because they make no sense, structurally speaking. My characters do things that make no sense and apparently I'm unable to see that in the outline or while I'm writing. So I'm still tweaking.

I wrote the first draft of the novel I'm currently editing, The Avatar Legacy, using Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Writing method and while it's significantly better than what I had at the start of editing the novel I'm currently querying, Familiar Phantoms, I'm still going to have to rip out the entire middle of the book, which I'm frankly not too happy about. Which is not to say that it's the fault of the process at all. Regardless, for my revision outline, I'm trying out a different approach. Libbie Hawker's book Take Off Your Pants looks like an interesting take on story structure. It's largely based on John Truby's The Anatomy of Story, although Hawker presents her method in a much more approachable way.

Hawker describes her method as a three-legged stool. The three legs are character arc, theme,and pacing. Without any one of them the story will not stand, or it will be wibbly wobbly. The story's core has five elements; a character (1) who wants something (2), something that prevents them from getting what they want easily (3), leading them to struggle against that force (4) leading to either success or failure (5). That's the very basics of the method, but the book goes into more depth and is absolutely worth reading.

This is the third process I'm trying out for novel writing. Well, fourth, to be completely accurate, since I pantsed my way through the first two novels that I wrote that will never see the light of day, at least not as they are now. My first was the one covered in Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k, parts of which I'll be likely to use pretty much always since they really help me focus in on what I want to say with the book I'm writing. I used Cathy's Rock Your Writing method to revise that book and write the next one, the one I'm now using Hawker's method to revise. I'm planning to use Hawker's method to write the next one (a project with no name about a fairy godmother temp agency).

What do I want off my noveling process? I want to be able to identify possible problems earlier. I want to be able to consistently and fairly easily create an outline that helps me get through the book faster. Part of this is most likely a matter of experience too, but anything that can help me get there faster is a-okay in my book. I keep getting these vague concepts that I can't figure out the actual story to and from what little I've seen from Hawker's method, I think it might get me closer to that than my previous ones. I doubt that this will end by being the last time I tweak my noveling process, but at least it's a step forward. The idea is to keep tweaking until I manage to find a process that consistently works for my needs. Take the things that work and discard the ones that don't.

What is your novel writing process? Are you happy with it? If not, what are you using to develop it further?

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