This is my way of saying I am going backwards and forwards, taking - as my rather Victorian grandmother would say - one step forward and two steps back.
I have been written to distraction, literally. I have been re-writing a short story ready for entry into the BBC New Openings Competition (deadline 2 December, for anyone who is interested), reading memoirs like a voracious autobiography-eater and I can’t help myself from opening files with little poems in, and making little alterations to them, almost daily.
As far as the book itself goes, I have revised the plot, having inputted the data from my original draft into a Plot Overview spreadsheet (see this post) and have been re-jigging the order of scenes to make it flow, and ensure that loose ends are tied up by the end. I imagine the next stage will be to extract and expand each ‘line’ and flesh it out into a full scene. This will help me to realise if there is enough drama, and tension. Hopefully I will be all set to start writing by the end of November.
My seven top tips for being as efficient as you can at the stage of structuring a book:
- Accept that you will feel you’re going backwards a lot, and that trust that invisible progress is being made.
- Turn off your Wi-Fi.
- Streamline your documents on your hard drive. File documents in separate folders. I use: admin; drafts; mechanics/research; character sketches, and setting sketches.
- Print your main documents out that you will cross-reference when writing, so that you will minimise switching between online versions when you come to write; this will only lead to distraction.
- When reading books, read slowly and carefully and notice the techniques that writers you admire are using to set up tension and narrative drive.
- When reading books, read slowly and carefully and notice the techniques that writers you *don’t* admire are using and be encouraged that you at least imagine you would do better.
- Seek advice from fellow writers. In the virtual realm, The Paris Review interviews, mostly all online, are indispensable.