Last Week’s Goals
My blog posts made it out on schedule. None of my stories returned from markets last week, so everything is out there.
“Getting Personal” completed its release weekend. My next scheduled release date is May 13th – plenty of time to decide what it’s going to be.
I wrote on seven days last week. I made my daily quota on three of those days, but came up short on my weekly quota with 2,770 words of fiction. All this was on te current revision of Swordsmaster #2 (now at 105,282 words.)
This Old Dog’s Difficulty in Changing Stripes and Spots
As I’ve been trying to adopt what I learned from Savannah Gilbo about SCENES during ProWritingAid’s Fantasy Writers’ Week, the only phrases that come to mind are “A leopard can’t change its spots” and ”You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I’m sure there must be an opposite saying (It is an immutable law of the universe that all wise sayings have equally wise opposites. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” versus “Out of sight, out of mind”, for one example), but I can’t think of any (post in the comments if you know one, please.)
I’m really struggling with the process.
I currently have a rough draft organized in chapters, which I’m trying to split into scenes. I’ve made it about 16% through the draft. Scene splitting isn’t so much the problem (that’s fairly intuitive.) The problem arises from the components expected to be in each scene:
- A POV (Point Of View) character (simple enough) with a scene goal (not difficult)
- Inciting incident – first thing that gets in the way of that goal (I can create them if they’re not there, although I have difficulty seeing some as needed)
- Turning point – the moment of peak conflict where character realizes they can no longer pursue the scene goal as planned (not sure that should always exist)
- Crisis point – decision between same weight options with obvious stakes (again, not sure it should always be there)
- Climax – POV should act on choice (if he had one)
- Resolution – how does choice/action affect character? leads into next scene
And to top those requirements, each scene should aim for a word count between 1,500 and 2,500 words (my initial scene lengths vary more than this. I could bring them into compliance, but I rebel against arbitrary guidance here, much as I did when having to write essays of exactly X words in school.)
I’m a PANTSER (a discovery writer for those of you who are uninitiated); the words pour out, and I make adjustments after the draft comes out. Despite the fact that most aptitude and personality tests (such as Strengthsfinder) say I’m highly analytical, I seem to have a block when it comes to applying analysis to my writing. I can FEEL whether something works, but it’s difficult (to say the least) to apply other people’s rules to my stories.
So maybe adOpting isn’t so much what I’m doing, but adApting. I can see where breaking into scenes is helping me to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of those story segments, and I’m using the exercise to shore them up.
It’s also causing me to look at my POV distribution. The original Swordsmaster was definitely Sandrik’s story. Out of 23 chapters (including the Prologue and Epilogue), all but 2 chapters and a few paragraphs of another were from Sandrik’s viewpoint. I fully intended Swordsmaster 2 be told from more POVs, and it is. But there are several scenes in a row owned by one POV, and I can see where it would be useful to have some of these scenes told from a different perspective. And it might make it easier to gain tension/conflict and the other components that the current POV is missing.
Who knows – maybe I can learn after all despite myself (tricksy lessons…)
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William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
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