Pick a Scene, Any Scene

I did 1,595 words yesterday, some of it recycled from the earlier version.  I also did a scene shuffle.  That is, I moved the location of a scene.  When I was doing the revision in One Note (no actual writing involved), I constantly moved the scenes around, trying to find the right place where the flow worked with the big picture.   Shuffling descriptions is so much easier than shuffling the entire scenes, and it saves so much time waiting until it’s more or less settled before revising.

Still, I’m finding places where the flow still isn’t quite right.  Not as major as the changes above.  For this scene shuffle, I had two scenes at the same location.  Looked at the scenes and realized the second one should go first.   In Word, this was a messy process.  I either had to save the scenes as individual files and then change the names and the page numbers or keep it in a bigger document and cut/paste it.  Scrivener is a better tool for me — all I have to do is select the scene, arrow it up, and done.

One of my big take aways from How to Revise Your Novel Workshop is to spend a lot of time working out the scene issues before doing actual writing.  I previously did all this shuffling in the actual writing, fixing problems that crept up, and I was constantly revising the same things over and over again.  It’s so much of a time saver to get everything in the right order first before revising!

Today is my day off from writing.  I may do a little, but I won’t try for any specific word counts.  Spring has finally taken hold either — just last week I was still seeing barren trees.  Everything now seems to have exploded with growth.  The tulips are spectacular, their cups all leaing towards the sunlight.

What I’m Reading:  The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck.  It won a Pulitzer in 1931.

Recycling is not just for cans and newspapers

I’m making a lot of progress with my revision to Miasma–I wrote 1,218 words today, bringing me up to 18% done.  One-fifth of the book done is not far away!   This is a fairly major revision because I’m correcting all the problems that came with starting the story too late.  I ended up having 47 new scenes (out of 50) that I have to write from scratch.

So I’m recycling where I can.  Not like article writing where you take an idea and the research and write many different articles.  I have the finished version of the story, plus about 10K where I was starting it from scratch (didn’t start that in the right place either!).  Everywhere I can, I’m grabbing sentences and paragraphs from the older versions to reuse.  Scrivener for Windows makes it easy for me to do this.  I saved all my scenes from both older versions, so when I need something, I just click on the different files until I find it.  Then copy and paste.

In this case, I recycled one of the few scenes that survived all the changes–a prelude to action and monster hunting.  The setting changed and several main characters were eliminated, so some of the scene needed actual revision.  But reusing sentences and paragraphs was a big time saver!

Writing the Opening Scene

At last I’ve finally hit the lesson on cutting the book, which for Miasma means I started with 44 scenes in the first draft and have only 3 scenes surviving in the revision.  The rest are new, including my opening.

As I write this scene, I have three goals:

  • Pull the thread of the inciting incident into the scene.  It’s not a big bang inciting incident, but a more subtle one that will become more obvious in the next scene.
  • Nail the conflict of the scene.  A lot of it is tied into the inciting incident, so hopefully that’ll come together.
  • Get some world building in.  This one is tough for me because I can’t tell if I’ve got enough.  I’m going to have to go back over the scene briefly and make sure I’ve gotten the setting in the right order.  When I submitted this story previously, I identified the original opening being in an elementary school in the query, but didn’t say it soon enough in the story.  An agent was thrown off because she thought it was a high school.  I already know I have one of those in the scene, so I’ll have to go back once I finish it and add a paragraph for clarity.

I’m color coding this revision because I’m dealing with 2 1/2 versions (the original finished draft, and 10K of an attempt to start it from scratch).  The originals are all white, and the new draft is blue.  That way, I can tell instantly what’s what and not get confused.  At the moment, I’m writing it by hand (though I’m not sure how long that will last–90K is a lot to write by hand!).  The various parts are going into color-coded folders.  Yellow for my scene notes; orange for my “Forget Me Nots” (things like making sure it rains 3 times in the story and that one of them is an indirect description); blue for the revised story; and red for the remains of the old story.  The folders are clear plastic, and I’m using a clear plastic step sorter to hold them.

Meanwhile, the Cherry Blossoms are scheduled to be at their peak on March 29.  I’m having a hard time believing it.  We’re still pretty barren here!