Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Forays In Fiction: Feeding the Muse


This week has been all about feeding the muse. Sleep. Dreaming. Daydreaming. Meditating. Reading fiction. And looking at pictures--photography and art of all types.

Some, though far from all, of my daydreaming focused on my NaNo novel Mobile Hopes. In last week's Friday Foray I made a commitment to stay with this NaNo novel until next July 4 and to post updates here each Friday. So this is what I accomplished with it this week: I worked with the story files every day except Monday. My priority this week was to clean up the mess I had made of them in the heat of NaNo. This involved creating new catagories of topics in the WhizFolder file that contains all notes from the casual passing thought to research and URLs and character sketches as well as true draft work. I discussed the WhizFolder notetaking application and how I use it for my fiction writing several times. Most recently in this Friday Foray post during NaNo where there is a screenshot of the Mobile Hopes file. The work I did this week amounted to adding dozens of new topics and rearranging existing ones.

One of the major changes I made was for the characters topics. When I set up the WhizFolder in October I created topics for characters yet to be created by creating one topic for each letter of the alphabet. Then once I began to create characters I changed the name of the topic by adding the character's name to it thus: A = Augustus; G = Gerta. I purposely constrained myself to using each letter only once until I used up the alphabet. This was partly to prevent me from spending hours on a baby naming site looking for the perfect names each time I invented another character, and partly to prevent confusion by having two or more similarly looking names.

Well, I used up the alphabet and then stopped naming characters--using references like sister, son, spouce, boss, friend and so forth. This was working OK only because most of them were, at least for now, minor or support cast and I didn't want to interrupt the flow. But several may develop more important roles--even full fledged POV. At any rate, I was obviously going to need more than the 26 name topics and a better way to organize them than alphabetical. I decided to group them by the trailer homes they live in. So now the Character section is orgaized thus:

CHARACTERS
>HOME 1
>>Zephyr
>>>Zephyr's Ramble
>HOME 2
>>Agustus
>>>Agustus' Ramble
>>Gerta
>>>Gerta's Ramble
>>Carl
>>>Carl's Ramble
>>Lucy
>>>Lucy's Ramble

And so forth for a total of nine homes so far. I use the carrots there to indicate how the topics are nested in an outline form. I can insert new topics at any level at will. Each character has their own vital statistics topic named for them and their own Ramble topic.

The ramble was a trick I stumbled onto two weeks into NaNo. Giving each character a place to speak their mind in an informal way helped me hear their unique voice and learn what their needs and fears were. These rambles aren't intended to be part of the novel proper but Gerta's ramble surprised me by reading much like a story, tho unfinished. So much so that I posted it as a snippet two weeks ago and some version of it just may end up in the novel proper.

The upshot of this week's work with the files is that I've put enough order back into the mess I created that I'm starting to enjoy working with it again and starting to anticipate writing more rambles and even story proper. I think this is a result of having established an area of order however small, quarantined the mess and given myself a sense of having started fresh. Something I can thank WhizFolders for as it gives me the ability to leave any section of text that is out of control or frustrating me aside and move on to a fresh window just by creating a new topic. It reminds me of the good ole days of ripping the sheet out of the typewriter and rolling in a spanking white sheet.

1 tell me a story:

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