Once I had pondered all the ideas and written them in some form or another, it was time to get organised. I collected the snippets of information and arranged them into different documents, detailing the back stories, physical descriptions, motivations, and plot lines of the various characters, including the Establishment, the Mudders, and the Rebels, because, although they are not characters in themselves, they are still entities which require their own development.
After this had been collated, I started to write the outline or summary. I had tried many times to write a story without an outline or summary, and would often start off with a hiss and a roar, only to fall into despair each time I found myself lost. With firm plot lines in place this could not happen. Even if the so-called writing muse left me, I could still blunder along with the story line, knowing that I could come back and adjust things when I got the writing bug back.
Writing is like a muscle that needs to be worked in order to use it efficiently. At the start of this process, it would take me over an hour to get into my ‘creative mood’. Each time I sat down at the computer, I would re-read something I had written, read something someone else had written, or look at random stuff on the internet, and wait for my muse to strike. Since I only had limited time to write, this process soon drained away all my productivity. But the more I wrote, the less time I needed to delve into the creative mood. Now, I can simply sit down at a computer and start typing. I need very little time to flick that creative switch, and it is purely due to perseverance and determination. I just needed to strengthen my writing muscles.
My outlines were written on a scene by scene basis. Sometimes, I had lots of information on which to set the scene. Other times, I had one line.
Often I would start to plot a scene by writing down exactly what information I wanted to express, which characters I wanted to introduce, background information that needed to be included or implied, and the world building that needed to be explained. Sometimes I wrote more about a scene in the summary than I did it the actual scene. Here are some examples taken directly from my scene summaries.
It could be a feeling or mood I wanted to express: Hungry. Hot. Cold. Tired.
It could be a dialogue line I wanted to use: “. . . the world already has the name Jake Pierce on their lips.”
It could be as simple as this description after she falls from the train in Girl Behind Glass: Waits for people to come and find her. Doesn’t really like her uncle. Gruff and annoying.
Or a line such as this one, which I used in reference to Willow and Bracken in both Girl Behind Glass and Girl Beneath Stars: Shoulder to shoulder but not touching.
It could be more detailed like this explanation of living on the outside in Girl Beneath Stars, which has general ideas, as well as lines which ended up word for word in the finished novel: Hunting rabbits for food. Rabbits are the only source of meat that flourishes on the desolate land. Maybe Devon and Willow out hunting? Show the difference in her. More adapted to outside life. Less squeamish. Flashback to first seeing the rabbit get killed by the kids. Stop just before she is about to skin it and explain how Willow is a little despondent about things. She can see how putting your passion into saving the earth like Jake does while in the protected area is understandable as you develop fondness for your surroundings and they in turn capture your senses with the scent of nostalgia. But not out here. Here it is a dirty world and cruel. There are no fond memories here. There is nothing that breeds the seeds of nostalgia in this landscape. Describe landscape. Makes her wonder if Nuovo was not so bad after all. Out of sight out of mind. If we did not witness nature and its suffering at our hands how could we protest it. It’s easier this way. It is the difference between this rabbit appearing on my plate as delicate drumsticks and the feeling of the grip of the skin as you rip the fur from its back and the relative ease with which you can twist its head from its body. I never knew life outside the dome. Everything was new to me. Living in Nuovo was simpler. Things were done with ease, I guess that’s because things were done for me. Each part of my life was planned or mapped, predetermined based on my past choices.
Once everything was recorded in an orderly fashion in one place, I started to write.
The next post will be published on 17th September.
Behind the Glass | Writing | Pen to Paper
*If you haven’t read Girl Behind Glass yet, it is currently free in the Kindle store – http://goo.gl/KUGZrA