Tag Archives: writing

Writing Process–Example Time

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So I promised everyone that I would show how I took my writing process and created a finished story. At this point I’m going to refer you to the story on fanfiction.net and livejournal in case you would prefer not to be spoiled; if you don’t care and are just here to see how it works, well, hang in there! This is going to be a massively text heavy post.

Sorry front page, you’re about to get massively huge.

1. We start here. If you’ll recall, this is “1 sentence summary and then 1 paragraph summary that I can work with.” For Now You’ll Never be Lonely, they are as follows:

“Tony falls in love with Steve’s newest employee.”

“Tony stops in Steve’s diner just before closing to find a new waiter closing up shop. Steve secretly is crushing on Tony, but sets up the two for a dinner date anyway. Steve admits to linking Tony while drunk, and Loki overhears and slips back into drug use. While Loki is detoxing, Tony admits to liking him; Loki tries to skip town. Tony convinces him that he wants to make this work. “

The paragraph follows the typical conflict structure of setup-first conflict-second conflict-third conflict-resolution. As such, this doesn’t always work for every story (in fact, my current project isn’t following this same process at all, goes to show you).

2. Next up is the character development. As mentioned, I do this for all major characters. Tony’s looked like this:

Tony
Famous engineer and playboy; rooms with Steve because he hates an empty home.
Motivation – realizing he loves someone
Goal – explain to Loki his feels
Conflict – unwillingness to express feelings
Epiphany – Loki will be gone if he doesn’t say it
Summary – Tony is intrigued by the new waiter and feels more comfortable with him than he has with anyone in a while. He’s a bit freaked out by Steve’s confession, especially when Loki leaves afterward. He manages to find Loki outside a bar one night when he’s planning to get shitfaced due to depression, and makes Loki stay at their place till he’s clean. When Loki goes to skip town and Steve calls him, he finally realizes he has to tell Loki how he feels even if he gets hurt.

3. I return back to my one paragraph summary and turn that into a one page summary of the story. Each paragraph is basically trying to develop on the conflict it covers.

As I don’t you guys to freak out about long this is, I’ll just link you to the google docs copy of the 1 page summary.  An excerpt of it is below:

Loki shows up at the diner because of a help wanted ad, and Steve agrees to let him start after taking a look through his references. He feels a little bad for the guy, clearly new in town, but he comes back clean from the drug testing and he’s very good with the customers. Tony comes in late one night before closing and the two flirt with each other almost shamelessly; Steve notices pretty much right off how comfortable Tony is made by the guy.

As you can see, I’ve taken the initial one sentence intro and turned it into a logical flow from one character to the next. If you view the docs page, you’ll note the different title; I didn’t have on solidly picked out till right before I finished it, so don’t mind that.

4. Major characters then get to have a one page summary of their arc through the story, through their point of view. How many of these I do usually varies; I’ll have more short summaries like from step 2 than I usually have for this step. This is for the movers and shakers the story focuses around, the ones I’ll spend most of my time in the heads of. Again, link to full page summary on Google docs, and excerpt below:

And it was… nice. He kept waiting to dread it, kept looking for any sign that Tony wanted him to be something else, or that Tony wanted to control him. He kept waiting on Tony to get pissed off about something trivial and scream at him. He kept waiting and it kept not happening. And he mentioned going to maybe something he would like, and Tony said sure, no problem, and he actually enjoyed it and liked it, and grinned at Loki like he thought Loki was just the cutest damn thing. And Loki wasn’t sure how he felt about that, so he called Natasha (because sometimes he secretly wants someone to tell him what to do and decide for him because he just doesn’t get people anymore) while he was tripping (but he kept telling himself he would stop soon because he’s scared of Tony finding out about this part of him)(one more thing to make him a monster). And she told him to suck it up and stop being a baby and enjoy himself or she would pin him down and tickle him till he stopped breathing and lay off the drugs, Loki, I know you’re half out of your mind right now (this is the first time in two weeks he wants to tell her but he doesn’t).

Already you can see that some things are different then how they actually ended up being in the story. Natasha doesn’t tell him to lay off the drugs, Tony asks Loki what he wants to do instead of Loki suggesting something, but the general feel of the character is there, and I’m starting to grasp the logic and how it all fits together.

5. And again, we expand. I do a four page summary that usually is blending the different perspectives and working through the upper logic of the story and how different things move into each other. I get an idea of the overall tone of the story here too.  Here’s the link to it; no excerpt this time. Here we have the overall structure of the story, and you can start to see how that one sentence became the 18k word monster that it is.

6. Then SCENES. This takes forever to do, and I back and forth over spreadsheets or not spreadsheets. This is also incredibly necessary; it’s much easier to move a few cells around than it is to entirely restructure and move fully written scenes around. You can see it here. Note that there’s an established flow already; I don’t suddenly decide to stop and create a cliffhanger. I group the scenes according to how I feel they will work best as chapters, and usually I end up with more scenes then I actually need (like how, early on, I show that Steve mentions hiring Loki, but then that never is in the finished work).

7- 12 are not really documented the same way (SURPRISE) because, well, I’m writing. I don’t save copies of the old story, I just write and go. When I’m stumped, I refer to my scene list–it also means there’s no “writer’s block” of not knowing what to do; just me being lazy and not wanting to write or feeling like I can’t. That sort of writer’s block is much easier to overcome when you know what happens next and write a few thousand words anyway.

And that’s really all there is. Hopefully other writers will find this helpful in some way!

Writing Stuff

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Hellooooo blog. I’ll have an update on Tour process tomorrow once I take a few more pictures, but for now, I’d like to drop in and point you to two separate places you can read a story I wrote using the process I described a while back.

You can read it on Fanfiction.net or over at a Silver Words, a LiveJournal I use strictly for posting writing.

I’m going to leave this up for a few days, that way you have time to read it if you are interested. It does have nonhetero relationships in it prominently, drug use, and past abusive relationship mentions. If any of things distress you, I’d recommend not reading it. You do not have to know/have seen the Avengers to get a kick out of it; honestly, I could change the names and you’d never know.

Anyway, I’ll leave it around, and then in a few days I’ll make a post on how I use the writing process I mentioned in order to create the story. 🙂

Writing Process

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So I was discussing with Mroo and Dangland the other day and decided that I should just make a big blog post on what my general workflow for writing is. I’ve gotten kind of big on writing longer short stories lately for some reason (closer to novellas really), and right now I’m in the lull between one wrapping up and beginning to draft the next. So. Let’s workflow!

Most of my process is adapted from the Snowflake Drafting method and One Pass Revision method. You can use any writing implement of choice, though I’m partial to Scrivener with it’s layout options.

1. First, an idea. I usually aim to have a 1 sentence summary and then 1 paragraph summary that I can work with. I prefer the one sentence summary to be pretty cut and dried. For Enough, the one sentence was “Loki escapes capture and goes half-mad on the road to recovery.” The one paragraph just expands that, detailing the conflicts that will arise and a final sentence of how it resolves.

2. Character development. Each character gets the following treatment:

Summary: One line explaining the character

Motivation: The abstract thing driving them, usually an emotion

Goal: The physical thing they want

Conflict: What’s stopping them

Epiphany: What lets them break through (and I do allow for this to be another character’s actions depending)

1 paragraph synopsis: The character’s progression through the story.

I do this for every major character, villain (if there is one), and usually strong supporting characters who may not be the main characters.

3. Next, I expand that 1 paragraph into a page. Each paragraph is basically covering one of the sentences from before.

4. I then take every MAJOR character (and not always the villain, if they won’t feature heavily) and write the same 1 page summary, only entirely from their perspective. This usually shows me things that the other characters won’t see, gives me more ideas on how they interact and think about the other characters, and so on.

5. I then write a four page summary of the entire plot–1 page for opening and ending, 1 page per conflict. This usually takes me roughly an hour or two to sort through, and let’s me see how the story is going to move, flow, whose doing what where, and who gets focus in each area. This is a really great way to know what’s going on at all times and keeps down on the extraneous.

6. This step is probably the least fun, but the one that keeps my stories very tight, and any additions that happen and aren’t in this step are usually necessary and grow from writing the story. I create a table and take my four page summary and write down what each and every scene will be, from one to the next. I group ones that go together well as chapters, and number them so that I can quickly and easily move them around. This lets me see the logic of the story, know what I’m doing, and generally be prepared for any changes. This makes it so later I will have a much easier time in the revision process.

7. I finally start writing. Since I use Scrivener, I move over to my Story folder and create my first index card. Each index card for each chapter will have a rough run down of what scenes are in it so I don’t have to constantly look at my scene list. I’ll usually add document notes with any potential changes I’d like to make once I finish the first draft of a chapter (for instance, the latest story I wrote I was thinking about adding a scene but couldn’t decide if I wanted to. I noted it, and when revising later determined the scene to be unnecessary).

8. Once I finish the first draft, I usually send it off to Dangland, who reads through it. He’s usually reading each chapter just as they finish, and I basically use him to make sure that the plot is interesting and my basic scenes are not out of left field or unnecessary. He also makes sure my characterization doesn’t go off track. He does a lot, he just doesn’t know he does. 🙂

9. Once anything gets changed after Dangland reads it (this will usually be massive cutting of scenes if it happens at all (it rarely does, for which I thank step 6)), I will start in with the one pass revision method. I tear into things, fix temporal warps, figure out tenses and flow. I make sure that I have the entire story as one big document, that way I can verify things work between chapters. My readers (at least the ones that are starting from when I post the first chapter) may not necessarily appreciate this, but anyone who see it in complete form will. Since my works are usually not nearly as long as a novel, I usually don’t feel like I have as much tearing apart to do (I’ve written novels and revising them is oh my god horrible).

10. I send the revised story over to Mroo. She will read through it, commenting on grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, and generally things she particularly enjoys or notices to be slightly off.

11. I make at least one more pass, incorporating changes suggested by Mroo. At this point I’m only tweaking phrases or tiny details. After a third pass, I will not make any further tweaks. You have to stop some time, and that third is usually when I’m reviewing a chapter before uploading it online.

12. sweet sweet victory. I’ll give myself a day or two to chill out, gestate over any new ideas, and be a bum.

 

And there you go! Hope you found it interesting. If you’d like to see a story completed with this method, well, I don’t think my WordPress readers are gonna dig on the Avengers fic I just finished; the next story is still Avengers related, but it’s alternate universe and can stand apart from any knowledge of the movie/comics, so I’ll mention when it’s done going up.