Thoughts from the Writing Trenches – Part II

Juniper Berries, Snow Canyon Utah Oct. 8, 2016 - bruce witzel photo

79,000 words at last glance. My draft file for  No Compass to Right (the fourth book in the Crater Lake Series) continues to grow.

I went on a couple of interesting diversions today. Have you ever read the advice about making every scene count? At later stages in the writing process – rewrites and editing – I’ll be refining that advice down to making every word count. But for now, in the first draft construction of the story, it’s putting scenes together to make chapters that is building the word count.

I’m working from a detailed outline for this with all the chapters laid out and the scenes within each chapter defined as subheadings. I went through the whole list today and added a section to the top of every unwritten scene: Purpose of this scene. This proved to be an excellent use of my time. I found two scenes that would be completely redundant and one that served no purpose at all. Out they went before I ever wasted the time writing them. Of more use to me were all the new ideas that came up as I forced myself to consider how each scene could accomplish more. Scenes that do double-duty by achieving multiple purposes are dynamite.

I also had a research task to accomplish today. How does one convert a school bus to a living space? What does such a space look like when it’s finished? I’m here to report amazement on my part over what creative individuals can do with small spaces! I have this old library bus that one of my characters has renovated – you’ll be happy to know he’s leaving the large multi-coloured bookworm mural on the side of the bus.

The other day I had to Google which NHL teams played hockey on TV during the playoffs in 2012. Little details matter. In a rural town like the one I’m writing about, if you invite someone for dinner on a Saturday night in May, that person better expect to arrive at your house to find the hockey game on and more than a few of the family watching.

That’s it for me today. I’m enjoying these instalments from the trenches. Reflecting on the writing process is like priming a pump – words just begin to flow.

Mind statue - Bruce Witzel photo

4 comments on “Thoughts from the Writing Trenches – Part II

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    As always it’s an eye-opener reading about your modus operandi Fran. Without having read your books it looks like a recipe for formulaic, stilted storytelling. But you make it work so well in a way I never could (if I had the patience).

    • Thanks, Roy. Writing style and method develops over time, right? I couldn’t have paid quite so much attention to planning details at this stage on earlier works. It just feels right this time.

  2. Purpose of this scene! That is going to help me in my current predicament of having several things written that accomplish the same goal. I’ll have to really take a look at what works and what is unnecessary. Thanks for the good advice!

    • You’re most welcome. I’ve done more planning for this book than the others and it really paid off. Getting concrete about what I’m hoping to achieve to move the story forward with each scene was super helpful – I cut a number of scenes that would have been simply filler 🙂

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