ScriBuJo 14 (En)

Version française ici.

Why change a winning formula? We’ll be doing the same thing than yesterday, except we’ll be talking about places, not characters. It doesn’t seem great said that way, but whether your story is set in real places or whether you create them from scratch, it can be useful to takes some notes. Just knowing where it is to avoid putting Strasbourg in the south of France or Chicago in the place of New York (I’m exaggerating :p but if you’re setting your novel in a foreign place, it’s useful to use a map).

Today, as the day before yesterday, you don’t have much homework: just write a list per projects. You can choose to mention only special places or put them all if they are important. Depending on your way to do it and the meaning it holds, you can choose Hogwarts or zoom into the potions’ room or one of the Houses’ dorm.

As for characters, use one page by project, with enough space to write down the page where you put each place’s sheet. Depending on your page’s size and your writing, you can make one or more columns.

The second part, tomorrow!


ScriBuJo 13 (En)

Version française ici.

Each character is supposed to be specific, or else he’s not interesting enough and we don’t care about him. I suggest a quick and light version of the character sheet. As many of the notions I wrote about on this challenge, I’ll get back at it later and delve deeper. Here, the goal is to start.

For my short version and for a quite important character, I wrote the following:

  • Names of the character
  • Age (even if it’s vague)
  • Appearance (eyes colour, hair colour and hair cut, height, silhouette, fashion style if it’s particular)
  • Motivation if needed
  • Some principal traits of character
  • Side notes if there is something important that you shouldn’t forget

I doubt that you can develop a character that is quite important (even if it’s not the protagonist) without theses information. Even if a part of it is fairly basic (for contemporary writing in the real world, they don’t want to slay a dragon nor find a great magus that master death), I’m quite sure that it’s necessary. Even if it’s just for consistency, like Camille, school mate, redhead then blonde, once dance fan then gymnastic champion. For secondary characters or less important, you can shorten by deleting the motivation and maybe the character’s traits. I also have a « background characters » list where I keep only the name, the function and a few details, like Duena, old and deaf servant of the Familia del Agua, who helps Alessa and Vala taking their bath before a mundane event. As least, it prevents me from using the same name in the same universe.

You don’t need to keep everything here, on the contrary. As I said yesterday, I keep a short version on my ScriBuJo and a digital full version with a cute avatar (made on a FaceMaker as I don’t draw well enough) for short cuts on smartphone and tablet.

The goal is here is a quick reference without having to switch program, in case you forgot something or if the character invites himself somewhere you didn’t plan it.

ScriBuJo 12 (En)

Version française ici.

Today, we’ll work on the first writing pages. You’ll have some work to do. Take a page by project, (de préférence) by story, but if you write some short stories, you can take half a page for each or a full page and add subtitle each time you’re done. You can divide more, depending on the size of the page. I use A6.

You put your story’s title and you list your characters’ names. You can make two columns, depending on the shortness of the names or the number of people. You just need to let some space to write the page number of the character’s sheet.

Some people will say they don’t need characters’ sheet. If it’s truly the case, then you’re free to skip that part, but I strongly suggest that you test it for a small project.

Write some notes about a secondary character that came around the corner of a scene on chapter two named Christopher and who had blonde hair, it can be useful if he pop out of nowhere in chapter five and you forgot everything about him. You can put two or three details you mention, like his job, an important hobby for the story line or his eyes’ colour (other things depend on how much you said when he appears).

Saying the baker’s name is Camille and she’s a redhead is enough if the main character doesn’t fall in love with her. On the other hand, if she’s a class buddy of the heroine, she will remember in which class they were together, that she made one sport or another, that she had hazel eyes and freckles. Theses information are to be written if you don’t want her to turn into a buxom blonde haired woman who tries to steal the main character’s love interest.

Be cautious, I’m not asking you to write an essay on each one including deep motivations and all the details of their lives. Only useful information that can be needed for a quick check.

During nearly a week, we’ll do lists and sheets, so don’t hesitate to use it to develop your characters, backgrounds and universes.

And then, we’ll see tomorrow for the characters sheets precisely.


ScriBuJo 11 (En)

Version française ici.

We’ll start with writing, but I’ll stay a little longer with trackers. I admit, I forgot about this essential page.

We’ll start with writing, but I’ll stay a little longer with trackers. I admit, I forgot about this essential page.

The project tracking can be very different depending people. I cut down very much and I use many methods before starting to write.

Depending on your way to do it, it can be:

  • ideas
  • big lines of scenario (initial situation, inciting element, climax, resolution)
  • character sheet (light or expand, according to your preferences, the length of the story, the character’s importance, …)
  • cutting down (in chapters, in scenes, in parts or nothing at all)
  • writing
  • review
  • rewriting
  • proof-reading
  • sending to beta readers
  • finishing

If you cut it down, you’ll have a number more or less define of boxes to tick. If it’s not the case, you’ll have the step’s box, it’s not bad. Ticking boxes motivate me, it’s not the case for everyone.

For the novella I’m writing, I have 15 steps, the same as if I was writing a novel, but quicker.

  • Once I got some ideas of what I want to do and I let it macerate a few days (at least, some wait months or years… :p ), I use the 1 hour plot (Marg McAilster) then I set things in order with the minimal 6 steps of the Plot Planner (Martha Alderson).
  • Then I develop it into 9 steps with a method I found on Youtube, but I can’t put my finger on it. It was for my 2013 NaNo novel, so it’s a little bit old now. I develop into 21 steps with the same method.
  • Numbers are always the same until now, so I make the grids when I start this page for the first time. Then I complete along with the progression, or when I know how much scenes I’ll have.
  • I script with Dwight V. Swain method (I don’t remember the name but I’ll write a post on his book soon). This step allows me to check the links of causes and effects between the parts and condense or expand some. In the novella’s case, I got from 21 steps to 15 scenes.
  • I write beats (Monica Leonelle and Steve Scott), a very short summary of the scene were there only the essentials parts. Everything is told, it’s awful to read, but it allows me to have a more general view. It’s way easier to change totally a story that doesn’t work when it’s 4k words than 20.
  • I let it sleep for some weeks then I keep asking my husband for his opinion.
  • I add what’s missing, cut what’s too long. For the novella, I should go to 12 or 13 scenes, but I’m currently on it, so I don’t know for sure.
  • I check that every needed plot line is here where it’s needed (Stuart Horwitz) and I cut those that are not needed or slow too much the pace.
  • I finish the characters sheets (Martha Alderson and traits from Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) and I copy a short version of it on my ScriBuJo. I keep the full version as digital in a synching application between PC, ios, browser and android. I’ll write about it later, as there were changes. I’ll continue to use it, but I’m not sure I’ll suggest it to other writers. As I’ll explain when we will be on the characters sheets (very soon!), I only check the short paper version when I’m writing, or else it can cut me from the flow and prevent me from writing for hours or days. And I don’t need to see the full motivation and background of a character when I’m writing. I’m supposed to check this before starting to write the scene.
  • Then I write the story. 😉
  • I let it rest for a month, so I can take it out of my mind and I can read it all as a reader. I might need it, as I might no longer want to work on it. As I always work on two things and the blog, it changes often. :p
  • I get my handsome checklist (Marg McAlister and Rayne Hall) with everything I need to have and I tend to forget. And the deadly sins of writing. I got back on every scene and change everything that needs to.
  • I read it again, in case it turns heavy, flourished, not natural or not dynamic at all, and I change what’s need to.
  • I take the orthographic and grammatical corrector because there’s no need to use it before as you don’t know what will stay and what will have to go.
  • Here, I take some rest (or not, as I always have two projects ongoing) and I wait for beta readers reviews.
  • Once I got some, (I rush on every one I get, but I wait to have some to start making changes) I change things that don’t make it and I have the last run of corrector to be sure.

You had a preview of a pantser method (at first) and a plotter one (mine). You can add or lighten steps, it’s up to you to adapt to your way of writing. The more you do before writing, the less you’ll have to change after, but if you over prepare, there will be no surprises and you’ll grow tired of your story. On the other hand, when you know where you’re going, you’re less subject to writer block (it won’t protect you against demotivation and others blocks, sorry, no miracles here).

It will be some works, but tomorrow, we really get into writing! I hope that since the beginning you made a little bit of story with at least one protagonist, we’ll need him or her.