Friday, 10 August 2012

Word countdown…or up?

Recently I discovered another useful tit-bit to add to my writing toolbox. It’s so unbelievably simple that it’s scary. It comes from the fact that is nothing like a deadline or goal to get you cracking! I put together a simple word counting spreadsheet. The formula gives me the word increase for each writing session. its qualitative different to using word count because I can see my progress. For me, that’s important because I can’t sit at the PC for long periods, so in the times I am able to do so do so, every word counts. My goal is to finish with more words than I started knowing that I have limited time available to do it in. Being able to see my progress makes a huge difference to my motivation. Sometimes I add only a few hundred words but every word moves the total forward. I know it isn’t all about the word count but without the words on the page there is nothing to edit and shape. In the last few weeks, this strategy has helped me feel like I can get to the end of my novel – counting on every word.  

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A bit of prose panel beating

Like everyone who writes, I have periods where I struggle with my writing. Often it has to do with my confidence in my work. Sometimes it has to do with my physical health. At other times, it’s simply that I’ve lost the plot! I talked with a writer friend today and though that realised that my current struggle is to do with the structure of my story. Each time I try to move it forward I'm overwhelmed by what is in my head and not knowing where to insert the new sections I am writing. Under the weight of that, it’s easy to give up. 
My friend suggested that I map out the story on a large sheet of paper using a simple three act structure. She thought this might help to place all the existing character elements and plot in sequence and to identify what was left out of the story. In panel beating my story into this shape, I worked out the inciting incidents and turning points, not just for the main story but for the subplots as well. It was an interesting exercise and not the sort of rigour I normally bring to my writing. Even a rough draft of a workable structure gave me movement and renewed energy for the project. Until then I had been stuck for words more specifically stuck for the right words and in the right order. It’s worth trying if you’re stuck. Add it to your writers’ toolbox.