Starting a New Story

Ok, trying to ease myself back into semi-regular blogging here. The schedule I came up with over the summer was Monday, Wednesday and Friday. With Monday devoted to a review of some kind, Wednesday blogs would be about some writerly topic and Fridays would just be a free-for-all of whatever I wanted to talk about so…

Today being Wednesday we shall discuss something writerly.

*ahem*

So, last week I sent my latest manuscript off into the Void, as I call it. That is, I submitted it to ePubs in the hopes one of them will want to publish it. Which left me with no project to work on. I’d been sort of limping along, editing the novella in dribs and drabs. Editing two novels back to back this summer kind of burned me out for a bit. But its been a couple months now so that excuse doesn’t apply anymore so I figured with nothing on the burner it was time to kickstart the next Work in Progress.

For some reason, transitioning to a new project is always a struggle for me. I usually have a horrible time settling on a project and I constantly second guess myself as I’m writing. Is this good? Original? Interesting? It’s a pretty bad habit. The last few things I started I dropped out at 9000 words and now they’re just sitting on my hard drive in hibernation mode.  Hopefully most or all of them will be finished one day. And brilliant. ;P

This abandoning of projects is a bad habit and I am trying to break myself of it SO this time once I settled on the idea that seemed to be most persistently signaling to my back-brain for attention I set myself a daily quota. I have to work on this project and just this project for at least an hour every day. And just writing or brainstorming. Editing what I’ve written doesn’t count for the hour.

So far, after a few days of this method I’ve gotten two partial scenes, a whole bunch of snatches of plot, some neat world-building details and a bunch of other mish-mosh that my brain has just spat out in the hopes it will somehow fit in this book somewhere.

Today, I also did my “collaging”. See, in my Pictures folder I’m always saving interesting pictures I find. Costumes. Neat looking people. Weird situations. All kinds of things. And so, when I’m starting a new project I go through each and every folder (and, trust me, there are lots) and I pull things out and put them into the new story’s folder. I don’t stop and think about it, I just let my imagination go “sticky” and whatever it wants to pull out I put in. I don’t think and I don’t second-guess any of the choices.

Sometimes this means I end up with a lot of unused pictures that end up having nothing to do with the story once its finished. But sometimes this collaging creates a whole new plot point I probably would never have developed otherwise.

A perfect example of this is from my latest MS “The Minion and the Mistress.” A few years ago I scanned in a picture of a beautiful antique Chinese bed. I had no idea what story I could possibly use that for but it was a cool thing so I kept it. Fast forward a couple years, I’m doing my collaging grab for M&M and my backbrain tells me to grab the Chinese bed picture. I shrug and say, “Ok.” (Chinese bed picture below)

About Draft 3 of M&M, when I felt I had a good handle on what the story was, I went back through the pictures folder to cull stuff that obviously wasn’t for this book and also to see if anything jumped out at me. And lo, there was the bed, waiting for me. One look at it and I had a great idea for a scene, and actually this became an important piece of imagery in the book.

If anything could convince me of the importance of collaging for my process, this was it.

Today, when I was collaging my backbrain told me to put this picture into the folder for the WIP:

I have no idea WHY, but I can’t wait to find out. 🙂

Cross-posted at What Here Shall Miss

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