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!