Thursday, 26 February 2015

A dedicated notebook (or two)

I have begun to rewrite Ani's story. I blogged about it previously in story shapes and highs and lows

Yep, I know it's about the third or fourth time I've restarted it.

But this time, to try to get me past that horrible half-way sticking point and bash out that first s****y draft, I have a beautiful purple notebook (given as a Christmas present by a friend) which I am filling with pages of longhand about Ani's world.

Working alongside this longhand story notebook is another; a ringbound notebook dedicated to all the structural bits of the story. By that, I mean this is where I thrashed out my MC's motivation, the real story-worthy problem, and the rough narrative arc. It's also now got pages of 'what if' scenarios, character descriptions, potential names of places... What I don't write in my ringbound book is any of the real story.

Structure and story notebooks...

The purple notebook contains only the story. I do not allow myself to write anything in there to distract me from the storyline or which causes me to become confused when I read back over my work. If something pops into my head as a possibility, I switch to the ringbound book and jot it down for future reference. That way, when the story draft is completed, I can see where some of my ideas might be applied to an edit. There are a few comments in the margins of the purple notebook, but I do not act on them; they are there purely for reference.

Ani's story coming to life on the page...

As a result, I don't worry about things like my characters changing name. Twin 1 and Twin 2 have finally morphed into Hamzah and Hakim, while Ani's brother has changed his name at least 3 times. It really doesn't matter. This stage - this purple notebook - is about shaping the story, moulding the lump of clay into a vaguely recognisable shape before I get to work on making it look really fit for purpose by adding all the refinements and extras.

Funnily enough, writing longhand seems to help me. It's far too easy to lose the thread of what changes you make to your story on a computer; I do use track changes, but only in the final stages of a manuscript when (hopefully) there are less things to pick up. To use it from the start of a project would drown me in a sea of comment boxes and alterations... Physically writing with a pen seems to make the story imprint itself on my brain better, which can only be a good thing as I get to know my characters and their world more intimately.

Having said that, I haven't ditched everything I wrote (on the computer) first time round - no writing is ever wasted and there may be a nugget or two I can use in this new version - but I shan't do that until later.

In the meantime, some bits of my first draft are pretty awesome. Some bits are completely naff, but they are all a part of the shape I'm starting to draw for Ani.

I just hope that this time, she'll let me finish it

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