Monday, July 02, 2007

The Seven Day Plan

I felt like I wasted an entire week last week. Horrible. I think I managed 6000 words of editing, plus 500 new words. And after my comments in this blog about first person/present tense, I was horrified to discover that this new draft of the novel has elbowed its way into exactly that - fp/pt. Arrgghh! I'm going with it for now, knowing I can always change it back later, even if it will be an excruciating process, because ... that's the way it's rolling out on the page.
And if nothing else, it's making me very conscious of showing instead of telling, and making sure there is plenty of movement and action. But at the same time, it's slowed me down, and today I felt as if I was wading in thick mud most of the time.
This was Day One of my Seven Day Plan (sounds like a diet), in which I committed myself to writing a minimum of two hours each day, no matter what. That two hours does not include research - today I was researching crime in Melbourne in the 1920s, and Squizzy Taylor in particular, who died in 1927 as the result of a shoot-out in Carlton. I got briefly sidetracked into an article about a murder in a rooming house in Carlton around that time, along with some really interesting background info about how Carlton was a slum area then with lots of brothels and illegal businesses, as well as extreme poverty. Hard to imagine it, as Carlton is now known for its Italian restaurants and great coffee, as well as very expensive restored houses.
The two hours also does not include plotting. As I have put aside all earlier drafts of this novel and am starting again from scratch, I need to keep track of the plot elements I want to keep, but re-order them and add more. I have cut out one main subplot, and need to build up the others.
The commitment to write every day will keep the novel firmly in my head, and it's the thinking time that contributes as much to the novel as the writing time.
At a 50th birthday party I went to yesterday, a writer friend was telling me how she is reading "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron at the moment, and is up to the part where she has to read absolutely nothing for a whole week. Not even the newspaper. Not even the back of the cereal packet. I'm not sure I could do that. I'm not sure what that would do to me, or my sanity.


Anonymous said...

erk! I too have fallen into fp/pt - I don't know how, but you're right it does make you more aware of just how slow a story can go. I am a fp past tense girl usually bc I always think fp present tense sounds too easy (read stooopid) although there are plenty of books that do it beautifully. I too will roll with it. I am trying to encourage myself to write sparingly. I want a slim novel. Uncluttered. zen. yessssss.

Sherryl said...

Fp/pt can sound stupid, can't it? Or to use my word - clunky. My point of reference at the moment (the book I grab off the shelf and read bits of when I've lost the flow) is "Al Capone Does My shirts" by Gennifer Choldenko. It's middle grade and the fp/pt works really well.