Back on track

A few posts ago I wrote of the impending disaster of arriving at my penultimate chapter with 40,000 words short on my target. Since then I’ve been back at the drawing board thinking, revisiting my plan and occasionally weeping. I also discovered that my chronology was all wrong, with weekends where there should be weekdays and vice-versa.

I decided I need to get a grip and go back to basics on my plotting, to try to look at the structure of the novel and identify where I’d fallen down in my word production target – I know that sounds a bit like Stalinist economics but it is a practical consideration, novels are an average length and that’s what I’m aiming for.

So I started by going through a printed draft with the easiest task, sorting out the chronology. By having to read every scene afresh to look for date/time stamps I spotted quite a few areas where I’d skated over issues or, perhaps more importantly, missed the opportunity to add depth and colour to the scene. These were, obviously, marked up on my paper copy.

Then I remembered reading about a program called Scrivener. I’ve tried a number of different packages to help with planning and haven’t found one that suits my particular style but thought I’d have a go with this one as it is, reportedly, the best on the market. There’s an excellent 30 day free trial, where the days are actually available, that is, they don’t all have to be used up within a month, if you can only work on Wednesdays then the trial will last 30 weeks. Although a little complicated initially, especially if you don’t bother reading the manual, it does seem an excellent tool with the ability to plot using an index card and corkboard system, add an outline and notes to each card, stamp each card/scene with a status e.g. ‘To do’, ‘Completed’, etc, and to then write the text of each scene with the cards in view.

It took me a few hours to transfer the material I’d already produced but I’m now about a third of the way through my new outline with very clear indications of where the work needs to be done. Getting it done is quite another matter but at least I now feel confident I’m back on track.

I did worry it was just another diversion but then agreed with myself that if I hadn’t done something my project would be dead in the water. Instead of wasting a day or two trying something new I’d have wasted the year it’s taken me to get this far.

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