1. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aliens Don't Bend at the Knees

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Sack-a-Doo!, May 30, 2016.

    Aliens was getting away from me. So many plot threads to keep track of. I tried doing an outline/index card thing in Excel, but with so much going on and so many plot points (40 in the main plot alone) it was really hard to get an overall sense of events. My biggest problem was figuring out how to resolve day/night flow from a previous outline and how it fits with where the plot sits now... which is in flux and getting more complex every minute I sit here typing this. (sigh)

    Yesterday, my wife helped me write out all the index cards and this morning, I put them up on the living room wall (the only wall big enough and let me tell you, I had to make some promises I'd rather not think about before she'd let me do this). (sigh again)

    And wouldn't you know it, as soon as the cards were up (which involved several hours work plus a trip to the store for more push-pins) the most obscure day/night transition leaped off the wall at me and pretty much resolved itself. So, on the one hand, it was worth it, but on the other, now I don't really need them up there any longer. (sigh for the third time)

    And here's the wall:
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
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  2. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    Holy cow. Not gonna lie, that's pretty impressive. Is each index card a scene or something? Or how did you do your layout?
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Now that's dedication. :D
     
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  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Each row represents a plot thread or an important story element that needs to be tracked so I make sure not to forget about it; each card is an event involving one or more elements.

    The top row of cards, the sparse one, is the days over which the story takes place, starting at Sunday and going to Saturday.

    And the first card in each row is the name of the plot (main plot, love story) or element (Jim's glove, crop circles, etc.).

    And the gaps are in there so every other element/plot lines up with the main plot.
     
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  5. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure am glad I am a pantser, not a planner!
     
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  6. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tuesday, May 31, 2016

    With all those cards on the wall, I was able to see where events were out of order, disrupting the cause-effect chain. At first I fiddled with getting the cards in their right order, but quickly found that it sometimes involved pulling down as many as 30 cards to move them right or left. I've already got too many holes in the wall, so I went for a different approach.

    First, to satisfy my wife, I switched from push-pins to Tac-n-stick. Then I started a number of Word files, one for each story day. Running back and forth from the wall to the computer, I wrote out the card contents to the files. (Yeah, I would have brought the cards to the computer a few at a time, but strangely, it took less time this way... seemed like it, anyway.)

    Once that was done, taking things one day at a time ( :) ) I printed the outline and took it to the wall where—after making sure each card was accounted for in the outline—I checked it off.

    Then I read through the outline for that day and made sure the events flowed, the motivations all made sense and dropped in any new ideas I'd had along the way.

    As of end of work today, I've got Sunday to Tuesday done, as done as they can be for now.

    And even though I already have Sunday and Monday written, I did the outlines for those as well because I figure I'll need to outline the whole story for an agent or publisher eventually anyway. And this will give me something to work from.

    Seven pages so far that cover roughly half the story. (The final day is pretty short, just the denouement.)
     
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to be a panster, too and in some ways, still consider myself one. But I decided if I was going to (excuse the sexist comment) piss with the big boys, I'd better make the story as much like the kind of fiction I like to read as possible. To that end, I found the only way to cross all my I's and dot all my T's was by doing all this.

    Of the three writers I admire(d) most, two of them wrote great honking long outlines with lots of details.

    But I still pants my way from one plot point to the next. There's no substitute for the rush I get from that. :)
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think the planner vs pantster (or pantser... I hate both words so I don't care :p) thing is a false dichotomy. It's a scale, rather than two camps, and we're all at different points along it.

    Like @Sack-a-Doo!, I found that nearly all of my favourite writers are closer to planners than pantsters. I know my stories are much better when I take some time to plan them out first.

    Anyway, not to derail your thread with this age-old debate! I'm finding your planning here very inspiring, especially since I'm at the outlining stage now. :D
     
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  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    No worries. I had just come back to change my answer, in fact.

    After thinking it over (and taking a short nap) I realized that pantsing was a big part of this novel. The first draft was pure pantsing.

    This being the 8th draft, however, pantsing doesn't really have much to do with it any more unless I want it to drift off and become yet another whole new story. Which I don't. So, planning is the order of the day. ;)
     
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  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh boy, yes. I had the nightmare novel that I dove into with no forethought and took an entire year to morph into something readable. Never again.
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did it twice last year. I haven't even started on the rewrites of the second one.

    I, too, have sworn off this type of thing. Such a waste of time for me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
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  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Didn't get as much done today as I'd hoped. Mid-morning, I got a massive headache and had to stop. (I'm feeling a bit better now, but I'm on my way for a nap.)

    What I did get done...

    I got through Wednesday and Thursday and part-way through Friday. The second act is done. So, everything in the first two acts should be wrinkle-free.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oops! Almost forgot to post...

    Thursday, June 2, 2016.

    I finished the outline for the 8th draft today. It all seems to hold together with set-ups and pay-offs happening throughout, some where the fuse is lit in the first act and taking most of the novel before they explode (so to speak).

    The third act, and especially the climactic scene, is pretty solid and has a lot more punch than the last draft.

    So, tomorrow, I'll go over it one more time to make sure I haven't missed anything and then on Monday, I'll get back to the writing.
     
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  14. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Back to tinkering with the outline. A few anomalies and inconsistencies were pointed out over the weekend.

    Still waiting for the last half to come back.
     
  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Got the last half of the outline back, got whole other lot of feedback from my favourite beta (she knows who she is) and got to work this morning despite having the balcony door repair guy coming in today (which necessitated tearing my office apart so they could get at the door.)

    Good thing I've got a laptop. (Why aren't they called flap-tops? I never use mine on my lap, but the top does kind of flap up and down if you put enough muscle behind it.)

    ’Twas a bit of a bummer getting used to just using the lappie screen instead of the 24" designer's monitor (the screens have more height than normal) I'm used to, but these are the hardships of being a writer under attack by repairmen. (First World problem, I know.)

    Anyway, got through almost three and a half outline pages. I cheated, though. I already had the first 108 draft pages written before I broke off to do the outline, so it was a simple matter of making those 108 pages adhere to the outline while keeping one ear cocked toward the door. Ginger and Kelly are doing fine, thanks very much, and all is heading toward the alien invasion proper in Act II.

    Tomorrow I'll be getting down to the nitty-gritty of roll-up-the-sleeves rewrites.
     
  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wednesday, June 8th, 2016.

    Good progress today. I got through most of an outline page today and it translated into 13 pages of prose. I'm bearing down on the end of Act I with all the fury of a <fill in metaphor later>.
     
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  17. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    ...a... really... furious... thing.

    *Note to self: write literary fiction for next project*
     
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  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooooo! I like that. Can I use it? ;)
     
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  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I can't just GIVE away golden material like that. But I can sell you a licence for seventy of your Canadian dollars.
     
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  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    It took me a while to find my phrase-buying guide, but now that I have...

    I shan't pay more than two quid, five bob, six shillings and thruppence. Or is it two guineas, half a crown, nine farthings and a florin?

    Maybe my guide's out of date, but either way, your asking price is simply outrageous.
     
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  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thurday, June 9th, 2016

    No new pages today, but I did get through a semi-polish/rewrite of the 19 pages I wrote yesterday. I figure as long as I'm making progress, getting anywhere from five to ten pages (average) per day, that's good.

    I just finished watching a documentary about George Daniels and Roger Smith, both watchmakers, and the standards they held themselves to are an inspiration. It made me realize that speed isn't important, it's doing things to the best of my ability.

    It doesn't mean I'll be slowing down, just that I won't be rushing this draft and I'll be taking every bit of care I can muster to make it the best thing I've ever written. Daniels' philosophy was to work quickly, but carefully with full concentration. Hard to achieve, but I'll give it my best.
     
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    Friday, June 10, 2016.

    A very good day today. Seventeen new pages bringing the total up to 145. I'm into the second act now and going strong.

    I have deviated from the outline, but only slightly and only in two places. I think those deviations actually strengthen the story, though. I guess I'll find out when the beta readers tear it apart a couple of months from now. :)

    I've ripped through five and a half pages of the outline (the total page count is 13) so far and I think by the time I'm done, the story may end up somewhere between 100k and 120k words. Not too-too long (hopefully) for this genre, but if I have to cut it back, well... another draft won't kill me stone dead (just put me in a coma, I suspect).

    That's it for this week, although I may do some polishing tomorrow on the stuff I wrote today.
     
  23. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Just briefly here, thanks for sharing! I enjoyed the semi-rant of this Journal, keep us updated :)
     
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  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Monday, June 13, 2016.

    A good day today. I was doing rewrites rather than adding new material, but things went well. I think this is a good way to go about it, a day of writing followed by a day of rewriting. There are things I just never seem to catch the first time through, the nuances of a sequel, for instance. And today I caught a huge one having to do with a decision Kelly had to make, but in the first version I wrote on Friday, he wasn't making it. He was just making noises in that direction. But I caught it today.

    The other thing I always seem to catch on rewrite days is narrative voice. I end up molding the language to better suit Kelly's first person POV.

    Anyway, but the end of the day, I was at a total of 148 pages, about three pages more than last Friday.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
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  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

    Another good day!

    I managed to crank out 15 pages (for a total of almost 46,000 words) bringing my page count to 163. And the big scene I wrote today turned out to be a lot of fun. I knew from the outline I had several things to squeeze in there, but I hadn't really thought about how I was going to go about it. But then as I dove in, the scene found a life of its own and just blossomed under my fingers as I typed. Lots of funny stuff (at least I think so) and everything I needed to accomplish got accomplished.

    I even got to (finally!) pull in a scene from an earlier draft. I'm doing an extensive rewrite on it, but at least I wasn't facing a blank page all morning (for the first time in a while).
     
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