Moving Along

Shoes  Shoes, keep going.

Synopses are hard.

I’m working on Step 4 of my pre-MyNoWriMo plan, which is to write a synopsis. I’ve got a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of how to do this from Janice Hardy’s Fiction University site, so it should be pretty straightforward, right? Um, not so much.

So far I’ve written the first paragraph three times. I started out with four or five sentences that are essentially back story – things that came before my actual novel begins, setting up how the main character got to where she is when the story starts. Nope, that’s not where I should begin. Then I started with what she’s thinking about and struggling with internally at the start of the story (which, as it turns out, hinges on that back story), so again, nope. The third time is tied more directly to what’s actually happening at the moment. This is closer to where I need to start, but I think it will take several more tries before I get to move on to the second paragraph.

I planned three weeks for this step, so I firmly believe I’ll get it done, and on time. I should be working on the second paragraph any day now! As long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I’ll get there.

MyNoWriMo Step 3: Beats

Step 3  Major Story Turning Points

I’ve worked on this a lot this week, and I think I have a structure that’s going to work. I actually framed it out in 20 chapters, with a general idea of the action and importance of each chapter, because otherwise I couldn’t really pin down the story beats. So when you see how vague the beats themselves are when summarized, trust me that I have a pretty clear idea of what each beat actually means and how each one leads to the next. So, drum roll, please – here they are!

  • Inciting Incident: Kay (my Main Character) realizes the evil that has been stalking her for years is reappearing yet again. She takes steps to do what she always does, which is run, but lingers to try to help a friend. In the process she meets a team of people who are working against that same evil, though this isn’t very comfortable for her. She deals with trouble by avoiding it, deals with life by staying apart.
  • First Plot Point (end of Act I): Kay and the team discover that she carries a curse that makes her a point of strength for the evil. They decide to band together to try to understand Kay’s curse and figure out how to fight that evil together. She is still uncomfortable with this business of joining forces with others and staying to fight, but she can’t find a way to avoid it, and she is starting to form actual connections to others in the team (especially Chase, who is starting to become the romantic interest).
  • Midpoint Reversal: After several false starts, they find a way to block the gateway the evil forces can use to attack people in our world, and they are successful in destroying the device that they use for this. However, it is moments too late, and the core of the evil force has now moved into our world. It can use its new position to expand and, eventually, take over our world. Kay is devastated not only by the risk to the world, but her sense that she bears personal responsibility for it. If she could run again, she would, but it’s impossible, and her new friends are pulling her in with them.
  • Second Plot Point (end of Act II): The team has engaged in several attempts to stop the evil, without success. Kay is now face-to-face with this ultimate evil all alone, knowing that her curse makes her contribute to their strength in spite of herself. She has now bonded with the team and feels more alone than she did when she started.
  • Climax: Kay realizes that the curse that gives strength to her enemies can also be turned against them. She finds the courage to step forward, toward the evil she’s run from for so long, and defeats it, with the support of others, particularly Chase.
  • Resolution: The world is safe because of the team and especially because Kay pulled it out. The romantic interest has flowered, and Kay is now able to make an actual commitment to Chase, and to the whole team.

So, my readers – what do you think? Does it sound interesting? Would you read it?

Progress so far:

  • 3/1/15: Set the goal (a full 50,000-word draft, or half a novel?) – On time
  • 3/8/15: Develop my one-sentence pitch line – Early
  • 3/22/15: Establish major set pieces/beats – On time
  • 4/12/15: Develop a rough synopsis
  • 5/3/15: Complete a rough outline or scene sketch
  • 5/24/15: Complete an “idea bank” with the things I want to include in the novel
  • 5/31/15: Plan the beginning of the novel, from opening scene to first major turn
  • 6/14/15: Plan the middle of the novel, including all the twists and complications leading to the ending
  • 6/28/15: Plan the ending of the novel, including the climax and the final resolution
  • 6/30/15: Get all my logistics in place (word-count log, file formats, backups, and so on)

Story Questions

BlackboardQuestion  So many questions!

I’ve opened all the aspects of my story to possible revisions – except for the actual climax, which I see clearly and want to drive the story toward. But I’m re-figuring everything about how to get there. The characters are in flux, and the plot points, and even the basic through line, though that’s not going to change in a major way. I keep erasing and revising. But I’m determined to meet my next goal, which is on Sunday, just 3 days from now. Aaaaah! How am I going to make it?

Part of it is that I want to make sure I can draw a line that goes from Point A to Point C . Point A is the point where my main character is thrown off balance, so that her way of coping with her life challenges just isn’t working any more, so she starts trying to figure out how to hold on the things she’s familiar with. Point C is the climax, where she uses strengths that were barely hinted at in the beginning to overcome weaknesses that she started out clinging to fiercely, saving the day and demonstrating that she has become a new, stronger person. Everything in between needs to follow a logical progression, so that each step leads inevitably (but surprisingly) to the next step, getting her deeper and deeper into trouble the more she tries to solve her problems until she finally commits herself completely to her new reality.

Easy to say. Hard to do! I’m still working on it.

Potholes

Pothole  Potholes – I ran into a couple recently.

One was the flu. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s the flu, though I didn’t get tested so I could be wrong. Sunday afternoon I started feeling bad and by Sunday night my fever was up to 101, and it stayed up there until last night. I’ve been home from work for four days, which I believe is a personal record for me (and that’s over 27 years on the job). Being home would have given me lots of time for writing, except that the fever and the the usual hit-by-a-bus feeling left me good for nothing but coughing and watching TV with my eyes glazed over. Seriously, I couldn’t even manage reading. I’m doing better today and might even be at work tomorrow. I can’t express how happy that makes me.

The other pothole, the one that was looming before the fever hit and is still waiting there fore me, is a plot hole. My next deadline, which I haven’t missed yet, is to establish the major set pieces and beats in my story. I’ve kind of done that, only not really. I think I know the big ones (the inciting incident, the first plot point (end of Act 1), the midpoint turn, the second plot point (end of Act 2), and the climax. The problem is there are enough glaring holes on both sides of the midpoint that I’m not secure about it. Unless I can convince myself that I know enough about the complications that happen in Act 2, I’m not really ready to drive those stakes into the ground. So that was my focus before I got sick, and is going to be my focus now.

So, I’m off to sip tea with lemon and honey and see how long I can think about plot structure and character arcs before I have to go soak in some TV for a while. Lordy, but it feels good to have some brain cells firing again.

MyNoWriMo Step 2: Pitch Line

Step 2  The One-Sentence Summary

I’m actually early on this, but I figure it’s going to be subject to change as I move forward, and I’m already working on Step 3 while I revise this, so I’m calling it. Here’s the official one-sentence pitch line for my story:

AFTER FOREVER is about a woman whose life was torn apart by the forces of dark magic and has been on the run ever since, but now the magic is invading our reality and she has to face it down to save the world.

So — whaddya think? I think it’s a work in progress and I hope I can make it better, but this is what I’m working from right now. Seriously, I’d love to hear any reactions from any of my readers (a small but mighty group, I’m sure), so comment away.

Now, it’s on to the part that has thrown me so many times before: the major beats.

Progress so far:

  • 3/1/15: Set the goal (a full 50,000-word draft, or half a novel?) – On time
  • 3/8/15: Develop my one-sentence pitch line – Early
  • 3/22/15: Establish major set pieces/beats
  • 4/12/15: Develop a rough synopsis
  • 5/3/15: Complete a rough outline or scene sketch
  • 5/24/15: Complete an “idea bank” with the things I want to include in the novel
  • 5/31/15: Plan the beginning of the novel, from opening scene to first major turn
  • 6/14/15: Plan the middle of the novel, including all the twists and complications leading to the ending
  • 6/28/15: Plan the ending of the novel, including the climax and the final resolution
  • 6/30/15: Get all my logistics in place (word-count log, file formats, backups, and so on)

MyNoWriMo Step 1: Goal

Step 1  Setting My Goal

This one was harder than I expected it to be. Do I want to write a full draft of the whole novel at 50,000 words, or write the first half of a 100,000 word draft? My finished novel will need to be around 100K (standards run a little longer for fantasy than for most other genres). But there’s something unsatisfying about writing just half a novel in July – I really want to push to finish!

I finally decided to draft the whole novel at 50K. This means I’ll be writing a short/fast first draft, along the lines suggested by Anne Greenwood Brown in her blog post for Writer Unboxed. I might not go quite as far as writing my first draft entirely in dialog as she suggests, but I will try to avoid the slow slogging to fill in all the details that usually bogs me down. Do I have enough sensory detail? What’s exactly the right word in this tricky spot? How precisely does the character get from here to there? My plan is to just keep moving ahead, and fix it in post (that is, in revision).

So there you have it folks. My goal is to write a complete draft at 50,000 words in 31 days.  Wish me luck.

Progress so far:

  • 3/1/15: Set the goal (a full 50,000-word draft, or half a novel?) – On time
  • 3/8/15: Develop my one-sentence pitch line, also known as through line
  • 3/22/15: Establish major set pieces/beats
  • 4/12/15: Develop a rough synopsis
  • 5/3/15: Complete a rough outline or scene sketch
  • 5/24/15: Complete an “idea bank” with the things I want to include in the novel
  • 5/31/15: Plan the beginning of the novel, from opening scene to first major turn
  • 6/14/15: Plan the middle of the novel, including all the twists and complications leading to the ending
  • 6/28/15: Plan the ending of the novel, including the climax and the final resolution
  • 6/30/15: Get all my logistics in place (word-count log, file formats, backups, and so on)