Friday, April 24, 2009

Novel Shortcuts

I attended Laura Whitcomb's workshop on "Novel Shortcuts"  at last year's Willamette Writers Conference. At the time, she indicated she had a book coming out on the topic. I have been awaiting it's publication ever since. On Monday I gleefully purchased Novel Shortcuts, Ten Techniques That Ensure A Great First Draft. 

As promised, the book provides great ideas for getting the story organized before writing so that, once you apply words to paper or computer, there will be (it's hoped) less editing required to get the novel to the point where it's ready to pitch.

Now I have a whole new approach to Legacy. *sigh* But I think it will work out better in the end...if I ever get to the end!

Okay, so my basic framework for Legacy and most of my other YA fantasies is the Feminine Journey -- the "girlie" version of the Hero's Journey per Joseph Campbell and Chris Vogler. With this in mind, I try to plot the story in accordance with Syd Field's three act structure as applied by Larry Brooks in his Story Architecture from his "Six Core Competencies" workshop at the Willamette Writers Conference. In developing the story I make use of Victoria Schmidt's Book in a Month, the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days.

Now I have Laura Whitcomb's approach to fold into the mix.

In reading her book, I realized that Legacy is a single book, not a series of three. Perhaps in three parts, but probably not. And I have in mind what Laura calls the "pinpoint of the story crosshairs moment." Lynn Schmidt suggests writing down ten essential scenes. Laura Whitcomb suggests writing down the "crosshairs" moments. One overarching story crosshair moment, plus individual crosshair moments to write toward and away from. So I think the two approaches to organization will meld well.

Laura Whitcomb has a "Shortcut to the Scene" that I think will be very helpful. For each scene she creates a single page that includes what needs to happen in the scene (basic actions and internal changes among the characters), ideas for dialogue, and a free-writing section where she scribbles for 10 minutes in a brainstorming session. She highlights the "keepers" in the dialogue and free-writing sections, and uses the one-pager as a guide as she writes the scene. It leaves her enough room for creativity as she writes the scene while it assures that she doesn't get sidetracked or leave out something important.

Anyway...I'll be using Laura Whitcomb's "Novel Shortcuts" as I revisit what I've already drafted.

By the way...Laura is the sister of Cynthia Whitcomb who is the president of Willamette Writers and anaccomplished screenwriter who is now writing plays.

If it sounds like I'm high on the Willamette Writers Conference, I am. It's one of the largest in the country and has a good reputation among agents and editors.


Shared Glory said...

Glad to hear of your further developments with writing :) My expos prof always tells us when we are writing that if our pencil isn't moving that's exactly the time we should be writing, even if it's just "I don't know what to say here". lol

allhorsestuff said...

Hi..thanks for that neat comment on my mane quandary.
I would love to see you have pictures? I can do anything I see..but am having trouble in my mind