Sunday, July 16, 2006

days months years

A few people have asked about my writing method.

I begin with a synopsis of 15 to 20 pages for a 400 page ms

Those 400 pages are mentally broken down into four acts

400 pages divided by 4 = 100

100 pages per month

25 pages per week

Monday thru Friday 25 pages, 5 pages per day.
Saturday and Sunday - edit and backup. Make a hard copy.
Sunday and maybe Monday morning -- outline the scenes for the upcoming week.
(I'm constantly outlining and breaking things down into smaller and smaller pieces.)

I work in periods of 4 weeks, usually every day. Between those 4 weeks/100 pages I take a few days off. Sometimes I get 30 - 35 pages done in a week which can actually mean reaching my 100 page goal in 3 weeks and having a week off. My carrot.

The edit is much less structured and takes about two months.

Two more weeks for the final edit, proof, polish.

Anybody still awake?

Of course this intense writing period will be interrupted with other revisions, edits, conferences, holidays, emergencies, illness, and juggling clowns on unicycles.


stay_c said...

So very methodical. I love it.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I loved that book cover! One kick-ass scene at a time. (Hey, there's a lesson there.)

It makes sense to me that if writing is your business, you must be methodical to survive. Deadlines are all too real. You can't wait for the muse while she sips apple martinis by the pool. Put that hackneyed personification to WORK!

Bethany K. Warner said...

Quite methodical. And while I'd thought about interruptions for holidays, emergencies, etc, I think I will have to be extravigilant now about unicycle-riding juggling clowns.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Wow. I'm lucky if I know where the hell anything is going by the time I'm more than halfway through it.

Do you do the "heavy lifting" of figuring out character arcs, subplots and so on as part of your outlining phase or does most of that show up during the actual writing time?

I ask because, well, I'm having some trouble with that myself and I'm trying to figure out which works best for me and what other people are doing.

Kelly Parra said...

Thanks for sharing this! I can honestly say I have not yet find a writing method that works for me. I wish I was more structured and I am if I have some basic notes to follow, but when I have no notes I'm just writing. As I have most of the book written things start clicking in my head, scenes connecting, characters coming to life.

Since this is my second book, I'm hoping I get organized by the next. ;D

angie said...

Thanks for sharing - I can see how you got to be a pro. Huzzah! I like how you've got both structure and flexibility built into the process. Will have to think about that next time around - if I ever get done flailing about on my first!

What do you do when things wantt to take off in a different direction? Incorporate it into the overall arc, or tell those pesky critters to fuck off and get back in line?

Wait, does that mean I'll end up looking like the dude on the cover for Novel Writing for Newbies by the time I'm done? Adds a whole new level to "art is pain!"

emeraldcite said...

I love your method. I am jealous of your method. I bet it took quite some practice to get that method down.

I've tried outlining, but it doesn't work out for me. I can plan a few scenes ahead, have a good idea where things are going, but I have to make it up as I go, otherwise I get bored because the story practically over when it's all planned out.

I envy your method because it works so well and I wish I could do it...

Flood said...

I really thought writing a ook in four months, was crazy-talk, but you manage it in such a practical way.

Do you beat yourself up if you miss 25 pages? Are they nice clowns or the scary kind?

Tami said...

Wow, I'm always amazed when I hear you talk about your method. It's amazing! I too am jealous of it. I've been having trouble with my novel right now, so I just set a 1,000 word goal per day, 6 days a week for now. That way, when I come home from work at about 7pm and then eat dinner, I have time to work on it for a little while before going to bed. I find that editing every day works best for me so far. I usually read what I wrote the day before and make any changes that scream out at me (there's a lot if I was tired the night before. LOL)

Anne McAllister said...

Well, I'm impressed. I wish I didn't live with so many clowns on unicycles. Or I wish they would shut up and leave me alone.

anne frasier said...

stay-c: do you think there's something wrong with me?

jason: hah -- glad you enjoyed that. i didn't think newbie was appropriate for the title, but that was the one thing that was already there -- and it would only accept 7 letters.

bethany: yes, watch out. the clowns are nasty.

anne frasier said...

stephen: the big character arcs are in the synopsis. if they aren't written down they are at least in my head. i will sometimes have a new character appear who becomes bigger than i'd planned, but my main challenges have to do with honesty of scenes, making sure they connect to the scenes before and after, making sure they advance the heighten the plot.

but i'm not saying i always know where i'm going. i've written some books that weren't based on a tight synopsis and i looked for direction as i wrote.

i have noticed that i'm getting better at knowing where i'm going. i think that comes with practice.

Shesawriter said...

I love this breakdown. 25 pages a week seems doable. Now if I could get my muse to listen to this plan, I'd be a happy camper.

anne frasier said...

kelly, i think you'll develop a routine over time. and with kids -- i was never organized or methodical when my kids were little. whew!

anne frasier said...

angie, if something good comes along i incorporate it. even though i'm structured, i'm also organic. :D

and yes, i'm afraid you will look like the dude on the cover.

art IS pain.

i like that.... hmmm.... very wise of you. ;)

anne frasier said...

emeraldcite: it did take a while to develop this method, but it wasn't a conscious thing. i suddenly realized i was doing it and really threw myself into it. i'm somebody who gets overwhelmed easily and this keeps that from happening.

flood: if i don't get those 25 pages done, i catch up on the weekend or do more pages the next week. that doesn't happen that often, but it isn't a big deal when it does.

the clowns are always very scary.

anne frasier said...

tami: don't beat yourself up. people who work fulltime and also find time to write are my heroes. i mean that. i absolutely cannot write when i'm tired. no point in it.

anne: the clowns are always there. and yes, they can be really noisy.

shesawriter: it's very doable. and for someone like me who is easily overwhelmed by as much as a grocery list, this method can be very comforting.

Jeff said...

I like your method, Anne. Especially the way you incorporate your own personal incentive for finishing 100 pages in 3 weeks and then rewarding yourself with a week off.
I'd like to try this method with my novel if I can ever get back in touch with my muse. I've been calling for more than a week now and I keep getting, "all circuits are busy."
The only thing worse would be, "The number you have dialed has been disconnected."
You got any of those pink pills with the red stripe left?

anne frasier said...

jeff, are those strawberry sunshine?

did thrillerfest kill your muse?

that happens sometimes, but it's always temporary.

Jeff said...

Yeah, strawberry sunshine, that's them. :)
I don't think Thrillfest killed my muse, but I'm beginning to think he/she may have stayed behind in Phoenix. :)

anne frasier said...

i hope you don't have to drive back to get her. :O

M. G. Tarquini said...

Man! You sound so methodical!

I'm jealous. Truly jealous. I'm going to try it.

Mary Louisa said...

Hellooooo, Anne! I've not been keeping up with my blogfriends (bad me), but now I'm back to see a WONDERFUL post by you. What other great stuff did I miss here?

p.s. If you'd stop juggling clowns, maybe you could get more work done.

angie said...

Dammit! I knew there had to be some nasty side-effects to this writing thing. Not sure I can cope with having a triangle head. Maybe with some elective surgery...

anne frasier said...

m.g. it's the only thing i'm methodical about. everything else is total chaos. let me know if it works for you!

hi mary louisa! i've heard you're being funny over there. :) and here. yes, i must quit juggling these clowns!

angie: the triangle head is a drawback. :D

Rob Gregory Browne said...

True dedication, Anne. Hell, I never outline and just write when I feel like it.

I'm such a lazy idiot.

anne frasier said...

rob, it sounds like your technique works for you. i used to just write and let the story unfold, but that changed over the years. i think the change came about because publishers needed to know exactly what i was writing since they are actually putting together the promotion and creating the cover before the ms is turned in.