Okay, now it’s Friday

Yay!  Just Yay!  I’m so glad it’s Friday.  I’m thinking of doing a little light holiday shopping this weekend, and to get me in the mood, it decided to snow.   Just a dusting, but it’s pretty to see it on the roofs.  Not all the leaves are down yet, so it feels more like spring.

Yesterday’s work went pretty good.  That tough chapter is still on my desk, but I got ten pages of dialog down, which should translate into 20 pages of text today if I don’t have a lot of interruptions.  My writing style is constantly evolving, but the “trick” of writing down dialog first to keep myself on track and stave off writer’s block is one of the first things that really helped me move my consistency from five pages a day to twelve.  It’s very much like a free-flow exercise where you open yourself up for new ideas while still keeping the backbone of the story.

Basically all I do is spend about ten minutes jotting down in that big white space at the beginning of a chapter the things I want to get done in the next 15 pages or so.  Then I drop down and spend about three paragraphs to set the scene.  After that, I stop writing in sentences and start writing what I can best describe as a very messy “play”.  Because this version of the chapter only lasts a few hours to days, I don’t even bother separating action from dialog.

T     In dark corner office.  Hears a noise, starts to move after it, use motion to describe athletic body, black clothes.
J     From desk.  Stay in my sight, Taylor.
T     grimace.  I can’t do my job from here.
J     I can’t do my job if you’re not in my sight.  I’m almost done.
T     Ten seconds.  Slips out.  Grins.  Moves through dark outer office, noting things.  See security guard.  Looks at watch.  Swears and backs up.
T     Pads over to desk.  We got an early bird.
J     monitor light glowing up on his face.  There’s more here than Sam told us.
T     Well, shut it down for a sec.  He’s checking doors.  Pad back to the door.

It goes on from there, and when I turned it into text, I got about two pages out of those 8 lines because I had to set the scene and some of the plot as well. But one of the most helpful things to come out of setting up a chapter’s action through dialog is that things can change fast, and usually they follow a more logical path than you originally planned out.  For example, yesterday’s chapter was supposed to keep my main character in the dark about what was really going on until the magic happened, whereupon she finally understood what was going on, and then the bad thing happened that the reader knew was going to happen all along.  But when I started putting down dialog, my character got smart faster, figured it out before the magic happened, yelled a lot, got excited, and reacted much more strongly when the magic happened.  The bad thing still happened, but when it did, she was expecting it, which made it even more heartbreaking, and her not stupid, just unlucky and overpowered.

So there it is.  Now I just have to turn my dialog into text, and I will be able to relax and enjoy my weekend.  There will likely still be changes, but it’s like carving a sculpture.  Chunks, to slices, to slivers, to tiny little shavings, and then the sandpaper!



Filed under Drama Box

25 responses to “Okay, now it’s Friday

  1. Your writer’s advice is so spot on, Kim. I know I’ve said this before but I truly appreciate it when you share what works for you.

    Snow! How festive, even with the leaves hanging around. I’ve been holiday shopping already — so far ahead of my usual last minute sprees. My local Barnes and Noble store is closing the end of the year and they’re having 40% off sales. I’m almost done present shopping . . . for family and friends, that is {grins}

  2. ~Lynn from Haverhill

    Very cool, Kim. I’m curious what “J”s name is. 🙂
    Hope u had fun shopping. I’ve been window shopping, trying to come up with something interesting for fam gifts. So far I have 1 lil cute idea worked out. I better pick up my pace.
    I had a nice productive weekend. Mix of work and play.. just the way I like it!

  3. OMG – I miss reading you while on the road (sigh). Middle America is a whole new world. I am an uncouth heathen here. I have yet to learn how to assimilate like the Borg (LOL). My NaNo peeps are screaming at me for disappearing. I’ll be offline for a couple of days and a blogging lunatic by Monday (evil grin). Enjoy your week end.

    Happy shopping, Kim. Thanks for all the great writing advice.

    P.S. to the Kim Stream peeps – I’m still mailing packages on the fly. Some of you may find TX and FL addresses for me so don’t fret if something comes and it’s not a NYC address (silly grin). I’ze be a travelin’ ebonics blogger. 😉

  4. Once again, thanks for sharing your excellent advice. Have a great weekend, but be careful out there, many people seem to have started Holiday shopping around Halloween this year.

  5. Colleen

    Nice peek into a very interesting process! Rained snow in my part of town and then pelted us with ice. Not liking it this early. It’s craft show season so I am heading out to look for trouble! Have a fun weekend.

  6. Hey Kim!
    I’m glad you’re making progress. Doesn’t it feel nice knowing the weekend’s ahead and you’ll get to relax and enjoy?
    in any case, Have a nice weekend!!

  7. I really love getting a behind-the-scene look at your writing process, but today I’m actually more grateful for your perspective on the snow. When I saw it yesterday I did NOT think, “Yay! Festive holiday snow!” But now I’m trying to see it as a good thing. Or at least a not-horrible thing.

  8. Happy Friday ma’am,

    Tonight is my family’s first big birthday for all of us. There will fresh fish frying, home made hush puppies, collard greens(not a fav of mine) lots of beer for the drinkers, 2 bushels of oysters and more.

    I’ve never actually eat fresh oysters so tonight, I’ll try some steamed ones and see if I like them or not. Definitely not going the raw route.

    I’m the designated driver since I don’t drink. I’ll be taking my Kindle too. Sometimes too many people around me are overwhelming, even if it is family.

    I am loving Skyrim. I’ll be spending a lot of time there.


    • jkh

      Vampy, have a great BFD (Big Family Dinner)! I really like greens (and I’m a descendant of Yankees!) but my fave is young ones, chopped pretty finely, mixed kinds is good, yes cook ’em with a little fat meat, and add a good slosh of vinegar or lemon juice. Enjoy ’em for me, huh? But you can have the oysters…

    • Mmmmm, sounds like some good eating, Vampy. Enjoy!

  9. Wow you dont know how helpful this is to me. I work similarily too. I write a page or two if narrrative then some dialogue.coldnt figure out what to do with it now i know its all good wen i rewrite ill blend and voila! Have a great weekend Kim!! Ahhh i wish we would get a dust of snow but its still barely frost yet heat days still in 60 and some 70

  10. SandyPants

    Goodness gracious Kim. I have to say, it’s the mark of a good writer when 8 little lines of description can have me completely interested and aching to see what happens next. I just love your style. Me and “it” are just compatible.
    Like peanut butter and jelly.
    Raspberries and chocolate.
    macaroni and tuna fish… what? Is it just me? Don’t judge me. 0_o

  11. SeattleRobin

    Great post. I’ve been fascinated since the first time you mentioned you write dialogue first, then go back and fill in. (It just seemed such an unusual approach, though since then I’ve read things from a couple other authors who work similarly.) Thanks for posting an actual excerpt so we can see what the raw bones look like.

  12. Tim Collins

    Dear Kim,
    Looks like you are making progress.
    It’s also 11/11/11 (A day that does not bother dyslexics.).
    It’s also Vetern’s day.
    And a day where most diners will give me a free meal!