Now time for the Structured Approach

Admittedly I didn’t have the best writing week: I did, in fact, label it a ‘write off’. However, going through my list of aims, I haven’t done too badly. In fact, given the shining light that I discovered thanks to a recommendation this week, my efforts to revise my NaNo #1 will no doubt improve.

To-do List Review

22nd – 28th April

1.  Write up Cecelia’s section of the novel – Well, this obviously didn’t happen. Sinusitis made it very difficult to get any writing done at all and therefore this aim for the week had to be scrapped. 

2. Fill in Cecelia’s character in the ‘Biography Book’ – This I did manage a little of, but I widened it  to incorporate some of the other major players in the novel. Having read ‘Rock your Revisions‘ (see earlier post) I have started to chart the Goals, Motivation and Conflict for each of my main characters and am learning a lot, I’m pleased to report. 

3. Finish reading Life After Life – Reading was possibly the only joy I could indulge in (for short periods at least) whilst I wasn’t very well. As a result, not only did I finish Life after Life but I also ploughed through The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.
Life After Life I struggled with (I know, it’s  short-listed as one of the Women’s Prize for Fiction – personal opinion only here!). For a start I couldn’t really keep track of which life was which, nor where the events swapped and changed. I also got a little bored when Ursula moved to Germany and then it shifted and she lived several lives that seemed to have no bearing on the final outcome. The concept of the book is brilliant: but, for me, the topic of the war overwhelmed the concept and so it waned in the last third. By the end I didn’t really care about Ursula at all.
The Storyteller was much  more up my street, even though it dealt with the same period of history (although from a completely different viewpoint). Jodi Picoult has outdone herself with the research involved and has managed to sketch out some terrifically horrifying aspects of the Holocaust that made the novel itself riveting. I did just manage to catch the twist at the end, but it’s a good one – once again she left me with a good finale but still with lingering thoughts about the implications of the story. 

4. Work on story ideas for upcoming competitions – I threw some ideas around, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. Many of the competitions I’ve noted down to enter don’t have submissions deadlines until later in the year, so there is no rush on this one.

5. Identify three new writing websites/blogs that might help with the editing process – Here are the wesbites that I’ve been perusing over the last week:

Not to mention the fabulous website, with useful downloads, by Cathy Yardley at Rock Your Writing.

So, armed with a system for revising the novel that I think could work for me, here’s the plan for the upcoming week:

To do List

29th April – 5th May

1. Sketch out Goals, Motivations and Conflicts for each of my main characters in NaNo #1

2. Write out scene cards for Cecelia’s section of the novel with clear notes on how each contributes to the story

3. Insert previously identified Chapter Breaks (from read-through) into manuscript in preparation to create scene cards for all chapters

4. Begin sketching timeline for the entire plot of NaNo #1

5. Prepare Bingo Story (unsuccessful competition submission) to send to Woman’s Weekly as alternative market

I’ve added one task unrelated to the revision of the novel so that I can have a break away if I need it. As for Number 2, this currently replaces the actual writing of Cecelia’s story. This is because I have a good two-thirds of it handwritten, so it makes sense to use this as the basis of my scene cards and only then type up what actually works for the section as required. The way I see it, I’m saving myself a chunk of work because I’m not starting this section from scratch: however badly it’s written there must be something salvageable that would be worth the effort of not having to re-write it completely (because, truth be told, the thought of having to do that rips my soul in two!).

Right – I have a plan, I have structure and I know what needs to be done (which is a lot more than I had last week!) so here I go.

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3 responses to “Now time for the Structured Approach

  1. Thanks for the tip – I’ve just bought ‘Rock your Revisions’ to give it a try on my almost finished second novel, From the Sky, so we’ll see what difference (if any) it makes! Good luck with your revisions and your plan of attack. I always find that if I plan to write 10,000 words in a week I’ll write 6,000, and that kind of thing applies to any type of planning. Whereas, if I think I’ll just put in an extra two hours when I have the time ie the weekend, I hit my most productive streak!

    • Good luck with it! I’ll be blogging about how I get on over the next couple of weeks. Be interesting to see what works and what doesn’t work for each of us respectively!

      Glad that the recommendation was picked up: I thought it was a bargain for the focus and structure it’s now provided!

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