Monday, November 18, 2013

No Plot? No Problem! Chapter 7

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No Plot? No Problem!

By Chris Baty

Chapter 7: WEEK THREE: Clearing Skies, Warmer Weather, and a Jetpack on Your BAck

Week Three is well under way. At press time my current wordcount is 21963, which puts me 8037 below par. How are you doing?

Baty kicks off Chapter 7 by assuring us that Week Three is a lot nicer than Week Two was.  I sure hope so.

Going into Week Three (which, we're well into Week Three, but let's do this stuff anyway), we should do the following:

  1. Lose any word debt you've accumulated. If you can't lose all of it, at least break 30,000 words by week's end.
  2. Let gravity be your guide. Your pace will likely pick up at this point.  Go with it.

What issues are we dealing with this week? We should have passed the halfway point, but did we? And independent of the wordcount, are we actually halfway through the story? Even if we hit the endpoints before we hit the wordcount, no problem, that's what prologues and epilogues are for (I have friends who might be reading this who hate prologues and epilogues, and to them I say: See! They do have a purpose!)

But if we're not at the halfway point in the story, well, we need to get there.  Even if we have to skip ahead. We can fill in the color later, when we've finished the story proper (see my previous paragraph). Make a note.  Those scenes can be written in the editing phase.  The actual plot really can't.

How are our support networks doing? I bet they're over it by now (parts of my network were over it by the end of Week One, which hasn't helped my word debt).

What tips does Baty offer for this week? Well, he suggests 6,000 word days.

Yes.  6,000 word days.

But he's not just dropping us into the deep end without a floatie. He explains how to do that :
  1. Pick a day when you'll have three two-hour chunks of free time available.
  2. Get up early and eat breakfast.
  3. Do three 30-minute writing sessions, with a 10-minute break after each.
  4. Do whatever until lunchtime.  Eat lunch. Repeat the 3/30/10 session.
  5. Do whatever until dinner.  Eat dinner.  Digest. Repeat the 3/30/10 session.
  6. Do a happy dance at your wordcount. Go to bed.
Do this both days of the weekend, and that ought to help that word debt. In fact, I'm writing this ahead of schedule (greetings, WriMos of the future!), and I'm seriously considering doing a day's worth to push me through Week Two.

Now, after all the writing you've been doing, you may still feel your Inner Editor sniffing around. Thumb your nose at it by doing something huge and reckless with one of your characters, "promising" yourself that you'll destroy your novel as soon as it's done (since no one will ever see it, it doesn't matter that it sucks!), or hyperfocus on details that don't actually matter to the plot.  In any event, keep writing!

Now, Baty suggests some exercises for Week Three.

Draw a map of everywhere that is relevant to your story, and color it.  In detail.  You're procrastinating, take advantage of it.  When it's done, it'll serve as both reference and inspiration.

Or, play the Person and Thing game.  Go to a place with good people-watching; bring a newspaper you haven't read yet. Close your eyes, count to 15, and then open them.  Write down a thorough description of the first person you see. Then, close your eyes again and flip through the paper.  Open to a random page and plop your finger onto a random spot.  Whatever your finger lands on -- hard-hitting news, personal ad, TV listings, doesn't matter -- is connected to the person. How? Figure it out. Once you do, stick the combination into your novel.  Play it with a friend!


I'll just quote the first sidebar verbatim:
Can I Give Up Now? No.  You cannot give up now.

The next sidebar asks a question that I hope applies to you, but I bet you won't ever apply to me: What do I do if I hit 50,000 words early? Well, finish the story, and then if you have time to spare, go back and fill in those sections you skipped that we talked about earlier.

The third sidebar suggests that if you find yourself with writer's block, pick up the novel you're using as a reference, flip to a random page, and see what happens.  There are no new stories, so y ou're not stealing, just continuing the writerly tradition.
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