vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
vatine ([personal profile] vatine) wrote in [personal profile] rosefox 2016-04-21 09:55 am (UTC)

[ note, the purpose of writing my novel-shaped object was partially "see if I can last the whole race", and partially because I had a roughly novel-sized story idea ]

First, I tried outlining the entire novel. This, for me, Does Not Work (but is apparently perfectly workable for others).

What did work, somewhat, was to have a Firm Plan for the next chapter. Then have a rough outline for 2-5 chapters ahead (this did not always work, sometimes characters go and do book-breaking things). These were archived as "rough outline is 2-5 sentences, then a number of 1-sentence fixpoints for trajectory". That meant that even if I didn't have an outline for the long term, I at least had a vague idea of where I wanted the story to meander.

I am motivated by seeing measurable progress. However, the way I chose to organise things (single file per chapter, then tying them all together elsewhere) meant that progress over time was hard to track. Thankfully, it was easy to cobble together something that counted "total words" and generate a graph of "words over time" (this ran at roughly half-way through sleep, so about 3 AM, for me). I didn't think it would be as useful as it turned out to be. It was quite inspiring to look at the graph and see that while not all days were brilliant days, it was at least a measurable progress.

I kept character notes, with whatever seemed relevant (as well as non-relevant data, I know for every character in that fictional universe if they prefer coffee/tea/neither and in the case of coffee/tea how they take it; this is pretty much NEVER relevant to the plot, but it makes me happy to know that I know this).

I did most, if not all, of the writing between "morning shower" and "head to work", writing fiction outside that time slot only happened if I had been struck by Brilliant Insights.

About 45k words in, I hit a stumbling block, when my main POV character ended up taking an explosion in the face (yes, that was totally in character) and perished. This caused 1-2 months of not writing, since I was not, at all, sure how to proceed. In the end, I went back through the 45k words written previously and enlarged the role of a side character, so as to make it possible to pass the mantle from character A to character B.

I had a small cadre of people happy to do alpha-reading throughout. This was helpful (usually they did a re-read once another 1-3 chapters were done, as to how much they read, I don't know).

I did a bi-weekly (IIRC) 'make this into "for reading" format' and skim-read through everything, taking notes wherever flow stopped and spent one morning doing editing.

When I reached 80k words, I realised I needed more intro, so ended up writing what ended up as the first 3-4 chapters.

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