Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Different Point of View

by Annette Dashofy

A couple of weeks ago I stated here for the entire world to see what my writing goals are for the summer. Several of you joined me in my goal setting. Since Will and Elizabeth (why am I suddenly thinking of Pirates of the Caribbean?) both picked the end of June as their personal deadlines, I thought I’d use today’s blog to check on everyone’s progress. Or lack thereof. Consider it a gentle nudge to get you back on track if you’ve completely lost focus.

When I set my goal (a more modest one: first draft by August 16) I figured a chapter a week would do it. Happily, I’m keeping to that pace…no small thanks to all the rain we got last week when I was on vacation. Not only did I finish a chapter, I made it almost halfway through THIS week’s chapter.

That’s a good thing, because I haven’t written a word yet this week. Leastways, nothing toward my goal.

Instead, I’m plotting murder. Fictional, of course. I know who gets killed and who does it. What I’m less sure of is all the details. When? Where? How? It happens off stage, but I’ve found the best way to handle these major scenes is to write them out. Not a word of it will end up in the finished product or even the first draft. But it’ll reveal things that my protagonists will find when they discover the crime.

Plus, this little unseen scene is FUN to write. It’s in the POV of one of the characters who doesn’t get a voice elsewhere, so I have a chance to get inside his head. He’s pretty smarmy, so it’s an interesting place to be. I’ve already learned tidbits about him that will be included in earlier scenes during the re-write.

This is a trick I stumbled on by accident and then had reinforced during a writing workshop I took recently. Write the backstory to the crime in the antagonist’s POV and in the victim’s POV. Go back as far as they know each other (don’t write a whole other book…no one else is going to see it, so feel free to tell rather than show) and take it right up to the murder. Usually I’ll then go back and fill in the times of the events as they unfold.

My question to everyone today is does anyone else do this kind of thing? Do you have any similar tricks you use to keep your facts straight?

And how are you doing with your word count? Especially Will and Elizabeth. Tick tock.


Joyce said...

I haven't even opened my manuscript this week, so I'll have to do double-time next week. Hopefully the yard work will all be done by then.

I keep an Excel file and give each chapter a separate tab. I put a brief summary of what happens in each chapter, along with the day and time it occurs. I also have a tab for characters where I write some of their back story, and a tab titled "notes" which could contain just about anything I don't want to forget.

If I'm not sure who my villain is going to be, I write a scenario for each suspect. This usually makes it clear who the villain should be. This came in handy with my last book. I wanted the bad guy to be someone other than who it turned out to be. Once I wrote my scenarios, the right person came forward.

Karen in Ohio said...

Thanks for the prod, Annette. I've been extremely lax. (hanging head in shame) Glad to see that you're doing great, though.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I said WHAT?

Actually, I'm in a similar place where I'm ferreting out two directions I could go, trying to figure out which way makes a better storyline for the ending. I did get about 1,500 done since then.

I'm still planning to achieve my goal.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Yano, many people have told me I look just like Olando Bloom when I where my puffy pirate shirts.

I also tend to look like Johnny Depp when I slosh on eyeliner and put on my pirate hat.

That's why I quit dressing up like a pirate.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

wear, where, whatever...

Joyce said...

Hey Will, get back to work!

Wilfred Bereswill said...


Yinz ain't gonna intimidate me-ins.

Sound familiar?

Annette said...

Yes, Will, I can definitely see the resemblence (snort, choke).

Joyce, I have a plotting program that helps me keep a lot of those details organized, too.

And we're not discussing yard work. I can write or I can weed. So no one better inspect my garden.

Jennie Bentley said...

Very interesting approach, Annette. Needless to say, no, I don't do it that way. And I'm also not writing anything this week. Too busy admiring the dolphins and manatees outside the window. I'll be having lunch with Nancy Haddock tomorrow, and I'll pass that hug along to her then.

Annette said...

Oh, please do, Jennie! And if my favorite vampire, Cesca, drops in for a bite, tell her hello from me, too.

queenofmean said...

I have written background stories like you're talking about, Annette. Sometimes they're ongoing scenes that are out of my MC's POV. It helps me to keep the reactions (that my MC will see) consistent. Or maybe I'm just crazy.
Anyway, I got stuck on a scene. I knew basically what I wanted the scene to accomplish. I just needed to decide on the most logical location. I now have that in mind & can move forward. I did get some writing & more research done, tho.
Thanks for the boost.

Sara said...

Annette, you have Johnny Depp on the brain!
I guess there are worse afflictions to have though. ;)