My writing journal for Monday, September 15, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.
Early this morning, I started on the fifth novella for my ghostwriting client. This is the final one in the series. I managed 1,200 words, which is good going. When you start a new project, the first few days are always slow, as you get into the characters. Once you know your story people, and how they’re likely to react, the writing goes much more quickly.
I’ve had some questions about story beginnings, and how to write fiction every day.
How to make fiction a daily habit
You can make writing fiction a habit easily; all you need is a process.
Here’s my process in a nutshell: write in scenes, and outline as you go. This means that you know what you’re doing. Sooner or later, writing fiction just becomes another habit.
I write in scenes. Most of my scenes are somewhere between 1,200 and 1,800 words. So for me, daily writing means one scene, or maybe two, if I’m getting near the end of a project. When you think of your fiction as collections of scenes, it makes writing and editing much more manageable.
If you’re writing in small blocks of time — a few minutes here and there — you’ll find focusing on one scene at a time helps you to write more. If you can spare a couple of hours a day, then you can call your writing done when you’ve completed a scene or two.
Outlining helps you to write faster
Once you get an idea for a project, it’s easy enough to shape it. Fiction is all about emotions, for the writer, and the reader. Your story will have several turning points, so you outline from point to point:
- First turning point: after the setup (around chapter four, or scene four if you’re writing a shorter piece)
- The midpoint
- Three-quarter point: you’re setting up the dark moment
- The climax: the story’s final battle
Consider the emotions you want your reader to feel, not only in the turning points, but also in each scene.
Tell yourself your story in a paragraph or two, then map the turning points.
That’s your basic outline done. Some writers outline much more, but honestly? I’m a bit of a closet pantser. if I do more than the turning points, the story wanders off in fresh directions, so I never use all the scenes I plotted so carefully. Your mileage will vary. Do what FEELS right — if you have enough material in your outline to write each day, you don’t need more.
Daily writing: outlining your scenes
My scene outlines are very basic; I outline each scene just before I write it. I decide what I want the reader to feel — what emotions. (I write this down.) Then I write the first couple of sentences in the scene, and the final sentences. Then I zoom through the scene, writing as fast as I can. This usually means writing dialogue. Think of it as a sketch. Then I go back to the beginning and “paint” the scene. I add everything else — or as much as I want to, in this draft.
I’ve written about outlining fiction for emotion here.
Editing the nonfiction book
I finished my first read-through of the nonfiction book, so it’s time to read again, this time more carefully, making notes as I go. I want to finish the first edit this week, so that the material can go off to our contract editor by the weekend.
Then it’s time for email. A light email day today, so I complete feedback notes for three students.
Honey’s feeling lively this morning. She gobbles her breakfast, and looks for more. I make my own breakfast, and jot some notes for Julia while I eat my toast.
There are no meetings scheduled for today, thank goodness. I’ll be able to focus on copywriting and ghostwriting.
Ghostwriting the company history
I complete 2,000 words, which is excellent, and make a note for Julia to call the client and set up another couple of interviews. I’m pleased that the client’s easy to work with. Some ghostwriting projects can be a challenge, if the client’s busy, and you can’t get the material you need.
Time for my walk. It’s a lovely morning.
Two presentations for a retainer client
This week, I’ve got to complete two presentations for a retainer client, so I outline those. They’re relatively easy to do, but I need more information. Julia will make an appointment with the client so we can have a chat.
Time for lunch, which I’m having at my computer today, so I can catch up on social media.
Writing the nonfiction ebook freebie
This ebook is quite short, so I do 2,500 words on it. I’m pleased, it’s going well.
Then, back for a little more work on the two presentations. I can’t do anything more until I chat to the client, so until that happens, I do more writing on the company history.
Christmas short stories
I’ve got a little time this afternoon, so I spend it outlining another couple of Christmas short stories. These will be very short, just a thousand words each. I love doing very short fiction. You can get it done within a couple of hours.
Once I’ve done that, I need to catch up on phone messages before everyone leaves for the day.
All done. Daily review done, word counts done, and that’s it for another day.
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