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Friday, April 13, 2012

Writing Experiment #2 - The Plot

In my last post I wrote that during the months of April and May I would be undertaking a unique writing experiment that I would blog about from start to finish. This is the second post in the series.

As a brief recap, I am documenting the complete end-to-end experience of writing a novella that I will be releasing for FREE once it is written. The timeline for the experiment is as follows:

  • Plotting, Characters and Scene Outlines - April 1-20
  • First Draft Manuscript - April 21 to May 18
  • First Manuscript Edits - July 1-5
  • Reader Proofs - July 6-25
  • Final Manuscript Edits - July 26-31

Today's Date: April 13th
Progress: So far I have sketched 49 of 84 total plot points (I need to have sketched at least 60 before I start writing)

The plot for Ryann (the name of the novella) is slowly coming together. It's going to be a story of a thirteen year-old girl who works as a servant for a tyrant of a master and dreams for the day when she can buy her freedom. The novella will serve as the introduction to a fantasy series that I will start writing in 2013.

I have decided to make the novella 25,000 words in length and to split this into fourteen chapters of approximately 1,800 words each. When I am writing the story I will be writing approximately 900 words (or half a chapter) per day. Each chapter will have approximately six plot points, which will convert to about 300 words per plot point. As a side note, when I am writing longer novels (80,000 to 125,000 words) I usually write about 550-600 words per plot point. Therefore I already know this is going to be a much tighter book (which is important in a novella).

I aim to complete the manuscript within the month. If this all sounds a little formulaic, then in some ways it is. I like to plan my books out in advance and then try and follow the plan. This just gives me my structure. Things don't always go according to plan, but at least I like to have a roadway to walk along. Knowing where my story is going in advance helps me stay away from writer's block. I also leave about 30% of the plot points open when I start so that I have room to insert new ideas that come along during my writing. I also make sure at least the first three chapters are fully fleshed out before I start writing.

All this means that to date I have 58% of the plot points written (I need another 11 before April 20th), and I still need another 5 plot points in total for my first 3 chapters. I guess a lot of my focus is going to be on those first three chapters during the next week!

To date I have three main characters for the novella:
  • Ryann (pronounced 'Ree-ann') is the thirteen year-old female protagonist
  • Bramwel Cala (son of Lord Cala of Walthern) is the fourteen year-old male antagonist
  • Kieran is the fourteen year-old male friend of Ryann who also works as a servant in the household of Lord Cala
I now have the basics of the plot together and have all chapters partly or mostly fleshed out. Some things will no doubt change as time moves along, but I'm pleased with the progress to date. Below is a screen shot of most of the plot points (color-coded by character). For those of you that are interested, I am writing this manuscript using Scrivener, which I have written about in separate posts HERE. Of course, as this is an open project, I am not concerned that I am giving away the story here (although not all of it!). As I say, this is an experiment I am sharing in the hope that others can gain insight into the novel writing process.

Watch out for another couple of posts during the next week as I put the finishing touches to my plot points and back-story. Then I'll be documenting the writing progress on a day-by-day basis once April 21st comes along. I will be posting my daily manuscript progress and you'll get a chance to see it (mistakes and all) as my raw unedited text hits my blog. Later in the process, when I move onto editing, you'll see how mistakes are corrected and things are changed around.

So, for now that's it. See you all soon

PS. Comments are welcome below.

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