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:~: Wednesday, December 05, 2007 :~:

Monsters of Chaos

I'm a forward movement kind of person. A go-out-there-and-get-it-done type. So slowing down to reflect or regroup amps my stress levels.

I decided not to plot out my current WIP. I had a couple of scenes churning in my brain for a while, let them bubble to the surface until they were about to boil over and then started writing. Works great--for those scenes. Then I sit back and wonder...what now?

I've learned--the hard way--that is way too stressful for me. I need to know where I'm going. Even if I veer from the path along the way, I need to have a path set out before me when I start. That's not to say I need to know every nuance, every thread. My characters don't develop into someone I identify with until I'm about 1/2 way through the first draft. My plots sprout subplots along the story journey. Theme grows with each layer of detail, with each weaving of internal and external conflict, with the upward and downward slope of character arcs.

So...here I am, 210 pages into this WIP and my pantster britches have finally fallen off. I need to regroup, rethink and plan. Man, I hate that. Not the planning part, but the stepping back part, the slug of forward motion part. Makes me grind my teeth at night and wake up with a popping jaw. And after going over the ms from the beginning and looking at everything happening in each scene, I realized my work is just too complex and intricate to work without a net.

As if to conspire against my attempted writing freedom, the universe is sending messages.

I watched part of a KCET (channel 9) seminar the other day: Change your thinking, change your life. Happened to turn to it at the point where the doctor/instructor was talking about accepting your location in life, realizing it is where you're meant to be. My creativity coach, a psychologist who is tutoring me along for free via one of Eric Maisel's coaching programs, encourages me to embrace my conflicts and work with them, not against them. Today, in my email, I received this message from the author of Blockbuster Plots, a woman I recently took a plotting course with via Silicon Valley RWA:
Winter solstice, December 21st, is the shortest day of the year.

Celebrated among the ancients as a turning point -- this day, when sunrise and sunset is at a minimum for the year, marks the return of the sun. The Mesopotamians were first with a 12-day festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.

I hope during the season you might find time to use candles, evergreens, feasting and generosity as a way to tame the monsters of chaos for 2008.

This is also a good time until January 30, 2008 to withdraw and regroup, examine and rework the way you express, experience, and integrate new information in your life.

This is a time of magic.

I'm listening, I'm listening! I'm backing up, slowing down and developing a plot for my complex WIP. I'm taming my monsters of chaos.

What monsters are you taming for 2008?



Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Okay, first have to say, "Ewwwww." To the picture.

As for the rest...You know I'm a plantser - I plot some, wing it some, go with the flow a lot. However - (and I can't believe I'm saying this) - with this new book, plotting it all out ahead of time has been SUCH a help. I'm 40K words in and following the synopsis pretty close. Oh, there are subplots popping up I hadn't anticipated and characters are developing in ways I hadn't seen when I wrote the synopsis, but the crux of the story is right on the same path it was in my head (and in my synopsis).

That's not to say I've completely reformed to the plotting side though. ;) This book came to me all at once, which is why I was able to write such a detailed synopsis, and it's the first one that's formed in my head like that. It'll be interesting to see if the next book develops the same or not. (I'm betting on not.)

6:58 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oh, and almost forgot your question.

As for what monster I'm taming...I'd love to tame my procrastination monster. It gets me every time. I'd also like to banish the disorganized monster to the basement.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

I can't believe you said that either, E!! :-)

I so envy your ability to write on the fly and go with the flow.

Strange and interesting how we're all so different and how our personalities affect how our brains work.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

And if you find a way to stuff that disorganized monster in the basement, share...please.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

I had the same reaction as Elisabeth to the picture. Doesn't fit with the holiday season!

Procrastination is my big monster. It's amazing how much time I can waste online or with a book of soduku puzzles. My TBR pile is empty so I'm rereading a book I hated the first time to see if it's any better the second time.


But gives me something to do instead of plot my WIP. I've picked up an excellent storyboarding technique from a friend that I'm using to plot this book. It's wonderful for plugging holes, following threads, planning turning points, and hanging on to ideas that don't quite fit (yet) but you aren't ready to cast aside. It's also flexible to work with new subplots or any plot changes that evolve while writing. I'm loving it, but it does take concentration.

Anyone know how to keep my indoor cats from chewing on my kids' gingerbread houses? I had no idea this would be a problem!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Hi, Joan!!! Can't wait to see you.

Agonizing over things I have no control of. Both in my personal and writing life. Whether or not I'm going to be a successful writer. If I'm going to get good reviews and bad reviews that may feel like someone ripped my heart out through my throat. (Yeah, painful, but apt.) How can I become a grammar whiz after 18 years of it going completely over my head. How can I get an agent to represent me. Will I snag a BIG NAMED publisher.

I'm making myself crazy. So that's the one thing I want to work on for next year. I'm so busy hyperventilating I'm not enjoying the good things.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Sorry about the picture. :-( I went looking for chaos and monsters and this was the only thing that came up...and I suppose it fit my feelings over the topic. :-/

Kendra, I really want to hear more about this storyboarding!! Share...PLEASE! Lots of us out there need that kind of tool!

2:28 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Hi Mel,

Missed you last month. :-( Will be good to see you this week! The brunch will be fun -- I've got games and prizes, too.

Your monsters sound very familiar and I'm sure I'm not the only one who shares them. Hang in there!

2:29 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

Go to mauscriptmavens.com and check the November archives for the 21st and 23rd. On the Nov. 19th blog entry, Lacey Kaye puts a link in the comments section (the fourth comment) to photos of her storyboard. I didn't really get it until I sat down with Darcy and worked with her. Sorry I couldn't get links to work here.

Each square on the board is a scene. The big turning points go in the far column on the right. This helps spread them evenly through the book.

With mine, my heroine's actions and emotions are on pink stickys and the hero blue. Main description of the scene on yellow, setting is on green and secondary chars. each have their own color. Other plot threads use a different color.

During big brainstorm sessions I scribble a scene or event on yellow stickys and ramdomly place them, guessing where the event might happen in the story. Like helicopter crash, ice storm, sick hiker. Ideas I have no clue where to place I stick along the bottom so they're in clear sight. Then depending on who I picture in the scene I'll use their color to show what they are doing or feeling in that scene.

I flesh out each scene a little. For me I ususally know what happens at the beginning of a story and at the end. It's the journey to get there that is difficult to pace speedily and keep from dragging. This helps. And stickys are easy to move when the story line changes.

Everyone confused? I can try to explain more later.

7:07 PM  

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