…And Now For Something Completely Different

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. Recently I started working on a screenplay based on a random idea that was generated by the Time Magazine Idea Generator but then suddenly I picked up a blank 300-page note book that I’ve owned for a couple of years and decided that I must fill it with the novel that has been bubbling around inside me for a number of years.

Over the years I have spoken about my novel every time that I’ve published a map. Different ideas continuously come and go from my mind as I developed my story, yet at no time did I ever sit down and put any of this development into words on a page. Then on July 13, 2014 I did. I hand-wrote Chapter One in that blank note book and I haven’t stopped writing since. As I write this blog post I’m currently on page 124 and the story is beginning to flush itself out. While I’m not ready to go into details about the story (that will come in due time) I would like to discuss the plan for the story once the notebook is full.

I’ve had a few false starts in this note book over the last couple of years and I’ve lost 20 pages, so my story will only be 280 pages long. My hand writing allows for 200 words per page (on average) so that means there will be between 54,000 and 56,000 words once I’ve reached the last page. The purpose of this writing endeavor (it’s far more than an exercise) is to allow the story gel in my mind as well as the formation of the characters. When I started I had four central characters and now, 118 pages later I’ve already killed off two of those characters. Their deaths serve the story and push it forward but at the same time I found that the story was better told with a different hero.

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As I’ve written my story I’ve added different things into the story and made notes of other things that will need to be added during the next draft. When I create a new character that will appear in more than one chapter I create a new cue card for that character and I write down their name at the top followed by in which chapter they made their first appearance. These quick character cards are filled out as the characters move through the story. While the story develops so do the characters and those new details are added to the character cards so that I can refer to the details at any time.

The Next Steps

Chapters are short and I don’t go into a lot of detail within the notebook. The main reason for this is I want to make sure the entire story will fit within the limiting 280 pages I have. Future keyed drafts will allow for more detailed descriptions and conversations, but right now I need to get the basics on paper. Once I have completed the first draft of 280 pages I will then complete the character cards and then transfer that information into Scrivener. First I will scan each card as a PDF and import them into the project and then I will use a version of the character sheets to create a more detailed character profile and history.

cards

With the characters brought into Scrivener I will then set out to create physical cue cards for each of the chapters as they appear in the handwritten notebook. This cue cards will summarize each of the chapters without chapter numbers so that I can move them around within the deck. This is where the flow of the novel will be finalized. I will reorganize the chapters to ensure that story elements are revealed in a specific order. While writing the in the notebook the first draft has had sweeping changes made that will require new chapters created and inserted into the early part of the story. Once the order of these chapter cue cards are determined I will create a chapter summary template sheet for each chapter within Scrivener.

The summary sheet details such things as point of view character, other characters in the chapter and the conflict of the chapter as well as other things. These summary sheets will be used to create the chapters within Scrivener’s Manuscript Draft. Each chapter folder will be divided into three files, beginning, middle and end. Each of my chapters focuses on just one set of characters at a time and maintains a single point of view throughout the chapter. Each chapter will include its own goal, obstacles and resolution (beginning, middle and end). Once the chapters have all been set up within Scrivener’s Manuscript Draft I will be ready to beginning the writing process.

Timelines

I started the notebook on July 13th and I am aiming to finish the 280 pages before the end of August. I am writing 10 – 15 pages a day right now and I hope that I can keep that up for a few more weeks. This means that the character and chapter cue cards will be prepared through September. In October I will being setting up the chapters within Scrivener’s Manuscript Draft meaning that I will begin writing what will be the second draft (the first keyed draft) in November, which is National Novel Writing Month. This novel will be my 2014 entry for NaNoWriMo. Because will have completed all of the early prep-work I will know my story really well and I should be able to push through and get the first 50,000 words written before the end of November. If I can that will be the first time in four tries that I will have completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. I’m giving myself until the end of the year to complete the second draft of the novel. Once the draft is completed I will go through it myself first and locate and correct the obvious errors in spelling and grammar that Scrivener doesn’t catch for me. Then I will find a couple of writer friends who would be willing to read it and provide me feedback.

With their feedback in hand I will return to the laptop and start making whatever changes are suggested that I agree with. Maybe at some point in 2015 I will be able to offer my first novel for sale to my followers. Time will tell.

What about Screenplays?

I have a second blank notebook that I will be hand-writing my next screenplay in. At the moment I haven’t given that story any thought as everything story-telling fiber of my brain is writing my novel into 2,000 word chucks each day. I’ll update the blog as soon as I have filled each of those 280 pages.

Stephen

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