I’ve been trying to get the time and energy to turn 2015 into the Year of the Novella. Clearly, making plans is a sure way for them not to come to fruition. So I turned to the 100 prompts program to build momentum. That hasn’t worked. One story got through the whole process and is on market. Stories two and three are sitting waiting for me to compile the critiques from April 7. Story Four needs serious re-writing. Story Five failed. Story Six failed. Story Seven Failed, and the reboot of Story Seven failed. I’m talking “what is the next word going to be” kind of failure for a couple of weeks.
I have lost my momentum.
Last night I ran my critique group through Jim Van Pelt’s Seven Sentence Story, which is always fun and I’ve done in several times and tried to expand it. So, to switch up the momentum, I’m going to start with prompt 8 and push forward, writing seven-sentence stories, one a day, hopefully two, maybe even three, until I get through the book.
I will admit that some seeds have been planted. Now I need to deepen the well and get back to work.
This being the Year of the Novella, after all, I needed to build some writing momentum. There are lots of projects that get it my head and shove the writing out of the way, and to get to my Novellas I need to get through stories.
This is a clearinghouse year for me. Every writer who has made it has given me the same advice: Finish what you start. Well, I don’t. That is, I haven’t been and that’s changing this year.
I found a book of science fiction prompts. 100 prompts that look like they are organized to go through the history of science fiction. I am reading one prompt, writing a story, finishing the story, then moving on to the next prompt. I have already gone through the first edits of the first story, and finished the second story today. Tonight I read the third prompt, let it ruminate in my backbrain, and tomorrow I start.
With two stories finished, I have noticed something. The first story began with a freewrite until I had the first line, the goal, and the ending come to me in a sudden burst. I didn’t use that ending, but I used the shadow ending. The character didn’t get what they wanted, but hopefully they got what they needed. That story took me a week to write, which is longer than I had hoped. I managed to write every day but not at a pace that would finish a novel in a year.
The second story also started with the freewrite until the first line and world came to me. I didn’t have an ending. I wrote and wrote and wrote for eleven days and it hurt. I had no focus, no ending, no real idea of what the character wanted. After finishing the draft, I think I know what he needed. I’m not sure.
So momentum builds. I have one more flight before I get back to the Great Metropolitan Rain Forest. I look forward to seeing your Aunt Stephanie again.
My writing has really slowed down, and I am finding my scatterbrain trying to work on several projects at once in the late hour at the end of my day when I finally manage to sit down to write, on the few days I manage to sit down and write. So I have decided to try a solid production schedule up, not by wordcount, but by scene management.
As I have several stories I want to write, and I kind of know how they go, but I am thinking this is my year of the novella, and the stories require heavy plotting. So the plan is to plot scenes.
The problem is defining a scene. I have an overdue library book about scenes and one of the ideas in the book is every scene has a focal point, that beat where the story moves, the point where the direction of the scene changes. This seems simple to say and harder to pull off. In practice, I don’t find a point where the scenes change. The focal point of the scenes I’m bashing out feel like they are falling at the end of the scene, which also feels like cliffhanger writing.
Maybe this is what it means to write a page turner.
My scenes tend to build to a point, hit the reader with some strong emotion, and then switch POVs.
Anyway, to pull this off I have spreadsheets for each story, and each scene on a row, with the pertinent information. Then, once I allow my self to write (and not write about writing) I can do a scene, and hopefully call it progress.
It also means that the full story needs to be plotted. That’s a trickier thing.
I’ve summarized the narrative arcs using the every-impressive 7-sentence story, but I have not mastered extending that to a fuller story, so each character ends up with four or five scenes, instead of four or five movements. Maybe I need a paradigm shift.
But the plan is to create a spacetime structure in which I can work on assignment, instead of trying to fake something every night.