Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New WIP, Onward

I left off with Day 1 of STARTING A NEW NOVEL in which you saw the immensely thrilled author, ME, linking up my character with my treasure trove of articles from my FILE OF IDEAS, also known as IDAS as in "I'd as soon not be organized." 

So we are now at Day 5 and I need to catch you up on this process:

Day 2: Spends the day writing a sentence. 

This is not my idea of fun, but it's the only way I can think of to start the engine on a new WIP. This is my "elevator pitch" sentence, the one I use when someone asks, "So what's the book about?" It's also my light in the tunnel. It guides me from Chapter 1 to *prays and offers incense* The End.

It's not set in stone, btw, and I often have to go back and tweak it when that pesky character takes a turn I hadn't expected.

This was the sentence that I kept in front of me while I wrote Sliding on the Edge (SOTE).

A suicidal teenager and her cynical grandmother are strangers when they are thrown together. Each has secrets that stir mutual distrust until saving a doomed horse unites them and gives each a reason to live. 

Day 3: Plants more vegetable seeds because Day 2 was such a bear.

Day 4: Writes the story.

WHAT? Well, let me explain. I write a very bad what happens first, then next, then last. It's not an outline, but it is a beginning, a mushy middle with all kinds of space between incomplete sentences for filling in as I go. I also write the end. It looks kind of like this, and again I'll use SOTE as an example.

Shawna's mother abandons her, leaving money and a bus ticket to find a grandmother Shawna hasn't known existed.

Shawna meets Kay Stone. They don't "get" each other at all. Shawna cusses, Kay hates it. Shawna doesn't care about anything (bring out with shrugging), Kay troubled by Shawna's isolation--wants to understand, but can't. Show slow transition from not understanding, to some, to major climax--use horse as bonding point, way to make Shawna care about something.

Horse disappears. Shawna unites with Kay to find and save him. 

Day 5: This is that day and here I am blogging away. Today I may not have time to do a single word on that WIP because I do have another life . . . sometimes. So I'll be back, starting at Day 6. Wish me luck. 

Are any of you starting a new project? Are you going through anything like this process? Do you have some ideas for how to do it differently? Would love to know. All suggestions greatly appreciated.


  1. this was very interesting, I have not thought to write the pitch first. I think I'll try that!

  2. Let me know how it works for you, Terry.

  3. I really like your way of doing things, Lee. I also like to have that hook sentence written out. I find it very helpful for keeping on target.

    For my most recent WIP, I came up with the basic premise "wouldn't it be cool if..."

    I then came up with some things I'd like to see happen along the way and turned them into chapter titles (which will change into something more fun and less telling than Commander Ned Takes Matters Into His Own Hands).

    This gave me a pseudo-outline to follow (something new to me, a pantser). I'm actually kind of giddy to have this; every time I wonder what comes next, I look at a chapter title and start writing again!

    Do you mind if I link to your post today?

  4. Wow. I really, really, really like that approach and haven't tried it. So next time I will. I can see how it would hold the spine of the story in place.

  5. It's so interesting to see your process, Lee. Even though we've been sending work back and forth for years, I'm not sure I ever knew how you did this. I wish I had a process. Each one seems to be different. I'm going to give your approach a try.

  6. I started a new project but haven't got too far with it. Just the elevator pitch (what a difference that makes), character sketches for key characters, and half an outline. But my other wip is calling to me, so I'm going to work on that one a bit more. Maybe I'll sneak in some more outlining here and there. ;)

    I loved reading about your process.

  7. I like it, Lee! I'd planned on starting something new tomorrow (shudder) and your suggestions are a great way to begin.

  8. Perfect timing Lee! I woke up this morning with an IDEA. I will be trying out your method.

  9. Tracy, love the"wouldn't it be cool if..." idea. Great way to start the engine.

    Of course I'd be delighted if you'd link to my post. If what I do helps anyone I'm very pleased.

    Thanks for your great comment.

  10. My dear writers! How wonderful your support and your ideas are. We're so different in how we approach this creation of something, and isn't that wonderful synergy?

    Thanks for dropping in and sharing. Now I
    have to start working on the next few days. Guess I have to get busy and actually write something.

  11. Hi Lee. Love your process. For my first two books, I had no outline and loved being surprised by the story and the characters as I wrote. But I prewrite and plot a lot in my head when I'm driving and waiting around for the kids so in a way I do a variation of what you do. In my WIP, I have written a hook sentence and even a back of the book synopsis (which was actually helpful in the agent search, because she wanted to know what I was working on). I'm still being surprised by the subplots though. Fun. Thanks for sharing your process.


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