Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Setting Scene Goals. And Keeping Them.


Morning, y'all! I am back! By "back" of course, I mean back in the writing groove. It's great to have that feeling of the words flowing out of me again, clicking away their monotone symphony on the keyboard.

But there's a problem that comes with getting back into the writing groove and that's the extra fluff. Fluff I really don't need when the writing should be tight and precise. I'm halfway through the story, and know this is not the place to go off writing a Melvillean style treatise on whaling, er, I mean the history of the Parisian cabaret, no matter how much I want to.

Some of you might be saying, who cares? You can trim all that excess fluff during the second draft. Just write the first. I would, but that's just not how my brain works. If I go off on a tangent, start writing by the seat of my pants, I wind up with lots of fluff, and no substance, no story. At least, not a story anyone wants to read.

So instead of using a strict outline, I like to quickly jot down scene goals before I begin to write. It can be only one or two sentences, like this:

Mara must free Georges from the store-room. He and Mara look for Alex.

This keeps me on the right track, while at the same time, leaves me free to make any other decisions I want to once I'm writing. It's less like a map, and more like a compass. Do I always fulfill my scene goals? No, but they keep me honest, keep me thinking critically about the plot and what needs to occur to move the story along. Or else we risk winding up with four pages on how the Moulin Rouge wound up closing in 1896, yada, yada, yada...

So you see, it's plotting, but it's not constrictive for you pantsers out there. And it helps you to analyze the plot as you are writing without planning too far ahead. One scene at a time.

Tune in tomorrow for details on The Hollow giveaway! Tell your friends. ;)

8 comments:

Abby said...

This is how I outline too. I don't always write it down, but if I don't have an idea of where I'm going, then I either get several pages of uselessness or me staring at the wall, totally brain dead. Okay, well that last one happens anyway, but that's not the point. ;)

Yea for getting your writing groove back! I'm so ready to be done with my revisions and moving on with my WIP. I've figured out where I want it to go, and I even did a little outline thingy, but I'm not allowed to work on it until my revisions are done. I've got to have something to motivate me. Now, I just need like six more hours in the day. Any ideas? :D

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, apparently we need to start working on a time-machine. I can see you totally brain-dead, staring at the wall, a trickle of drool...

IMO, this is the easiest cheating-est type of outlining and doesn't even really feel like outlining, hence, a compass, not a map.

Lazy Writer said...

That's a great way of doing it. I can't do an outline, but this might work for me.

Abby said...

Sorry, but time travel doesn't make sense to me, so I can't justify spending lots of very precious time building one, since I know it will never work. Yes, I totally know everything there is to know about time travel. :) What we need is a day-longer-extenderer-er. Inspired by the fing-longer on Futurama. Maybe we could slow down the rotation of the Earth somehow?

And how did you know about the drool? Are you spying on me?

Jennifer Shirk said...

I do that, too, when I start a chapter. I think "what do I want to show here?". It really does help to have a purpise hanging over my head. LOL

Tere Kirkland said...

LW, it's plotting, but only so far ahead so that you don't veer way off course. Even if you change what happens in the story as you write, at least you explored the other possibilities.

Abby, you said fing-longer. Ha! As for the drool, it takes one to know one.

Jennifer, I know what you mean. Going into a scene knowing what its purpose is makes a big difference to how easily the scene gets written, for me, anyway.

Belle said...

I'm definitely a pantser, but I do use scene goals, too (great phrase, btw!). When I finish writing for the day, I'll often jot down one-liners for the next two or three scenes, to start me off the next day.

jessjordan said...

Way to go on your progress! As you've seen from my blog lately, I've had way-too-busy sickness. I've been lucky to get in 200 words a day. :(

Ah well. Tomorrow is another day. And the day after that is another day. And ... I think you get the point :)

p.s. I like the bare bones type of outlining you're suggesting. Tangents are a way of life; no sense in letting them get in the way of telling an interesting story, though. And relaly ... Who wants to edit out all that stuff about the evolution of sandwich meat, anyway? :)