nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘story arcs

writing a novel – draft by draft

with 2 comments

Title: Unknown

Working Title: ‘Crossing at a Walk’

Setting: a writers’ retreat – the renovated Landing Church, the hall and the rectory – now used as a Learning Center, a Sleeping Hall and a home/base of operations

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer and manager of a weekend writers’ retreat; her husband Tom, a retired welder; people from the community; writers participating in the first weekend of the writers’ retreat

Plot: Some of the participants in the writer’s retreat become interested in the carving of a woman’s name in a local covered bridge

Story: Sadie works to make the first writers’ retreat go smoothly, but forgets to keep her own life on track

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Wheaton Bridge

Wheaton Bridge (Tantramar River #2) in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. This is the bridge where I found the PHOEBE carving in 1992. We re-visited the bridge in early June and the carving no longer exists, probably lost to necessary bridge maintenance.

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As I complete work on the fifth draft of my novel ‘Crossing at a Walk’, I am planning how to further improve the book. I am now at about 82,000 words.  I have defined the story and the plot.  Now I have to complete the editing phase.

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This blog has proven to be a valuable tool in writing.  It helps me to check my progress against my first book, and to make sure I don’t forget steps in the editing process.  To help with this process, I have made the table below to chart my progress through the various drafts.

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Number of words Tools used Objectives
Draft #1 32,000
  • Write early ideas and scenes
  • Create plot
Draft #2 54,000
  • Story board
  • Table of Contents
  • Create story arcs, character story arcs, other sub-plot arcs
  • Define plot and story
Draft #3 65,000
  • Story board
  • Table of Contents
  • Tables showing occurrences of characters and symbols by Chapter
  • Refine story arcs
  • Define symbols
  • Define characters
Draft #4 77,000
  • Reading start to finish
  • First edit (passive voice, adverbs, repeated words, etc.)
Draft #5 83,000
  • Reading aloud
  • SmartEdit for Word program
  • Deep edit (better word choices, repeated words and phrases, punctuation)
Draft #6
  • Reading aloud
  • Reading start to finish
  • Paragraph by paragraph editing
  • Character by character editing

 

  • Refine  setting descriptions and dialogue
  • Make consistent
  • Obtain opinions on technicalities, plot and story
  • Consider carry-over elements from first book to second, and second book to third
Draft #7
  • Reading start to finish
  • Beta Reader
  • Final author edit
  • Obtain opinions on readability, plot and story

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During Draft #5, I began reading my book to my husband and to the members of my two writing groups. Reading aloud is the first test of my audience and helps me find many errors.  In particular, I am able to hear words I have repeated in near proximity to one another.

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Also during Draft #5, I have used a tool I found useful in the writing of my first book.  This is SmartEdit for Word  (http://www.smart-edit.com/) a ‘first-pass-editing tool’ designed to help identify errors and problems with writing.  It is Word compatible and works directly with my Word documents. It identifies clichés, adverbs, repeated words and phrases, punctuation errors and so on.  Although it doesn’t take the place of a human editor, it shows the writer possible areas for improvement. SmartEdit for Word can be used free for 10 days or can be purchased for a reasonable price.  I have found it to be trouble-free and worth the cost.

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As I begin Draft #6, my objectives are to make elements in the book consistent. This includes listening for the way characters speak, making certain settings are described completely, and ensuring the story arcs are coherent.  I also have to think a little about the third book in the series, so I know what characters I will need and know if I have to make small plot adjustments.

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Have you ever used editing software to help with your writing?

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Carving of the name Phoebe on a beam of the Tantramar #2 Covered Bridge near Sackville, New Brunswick

Carving of the name Phoebe on a beam of the Tantramar #2 Covered Bridge near Sackville, New Brunswick

 

Written by jane tims

July 3, 2015 at 10:10 am

writing a novel – character arcs

with 6 comments

Title: unknown

Working Title: ‘Crossing at a Walk’

Setting: a writers’ retreat – the renovated Landing Church, the hall and the rectory now used as a Learning Center, a Sleeping Hall and a home/base of operations for Sadie and Tom

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer; her husband Tom, a retired welder; people from the community; writers participating in the first weekend of the writers’ retreat

Plot: Sadie wants the first writers’ retreat to go smoothly, but the history of an old covered bridge keeps getting in the way

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I have finished the first draft of my novel.  Still lots of holes to fill and editing to do.  But I am now certain of the basic story-line.

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For the next while I will be spending some time with each of my characters.  I know a bit about them, because I have a character sketch and a drawing for each character.  Now I want to make sure each person has their own story arc.   I would like each character to grow in some way during the novel.

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IMG486_crop

some of the characters in my novel

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My first step is to print a copy of the draft ‘Table of Contents’ for my book.

On a separate page, I also list the events (or scenes) in each chapter and the characters involved in each event.

Then I use the initial of the character’s first name to show on the ‘Table of Contents’ where the character occurs in the story.  For example, my characters include Patricia and her brother Rob … marked P/R on the extreme right hand side of the ‘Table of Contents’.

Right away, I can see if a character falls off the radar.  I can also make certain the characters are distributed through the action so my reader doesn’t forget they exist.  For example, one of my main characters, Alexandra (marked A) doesn’t occur in four chapters … this may be OK but I want to think it through.

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img177_crop

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Once I have completed this step, I have a list of additions to make to the manuscript (written up and down along the bottom of the page).

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I also write, in a simple sentence, the story arc of each character.  I write the arc in the format of: what the character wants, the obstacles he or she encounters, and the resolution.

Patricia (the rather sour-looking woman on the far left of my drawing above) wants to feel connected with her brother who left home and died years before – she reconnects with him by learning some of the details of his story.

Tom (below) retired from his career as a welder due to ill health.  He is surrounded by writers attending the writer’s retreat.  He is at loose ends and tries to find his purpose, discovering it embedded in his daily routine.

Matt (third from the left in the drawing above) is a theatre student who wants to attract a fellow writer.  In spite of repeated rebuffs, they find a common interest, the basis of a friendship.

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IMG599_crop

Tom, Sadie’s husband, doesn’t always feel comfortable around writers.

 

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I have learned from various courses that story arcs are often expressed as sub-plots.  The story arcs often occur in three ‘bumps’ in the action.  Although most of my characters occur several times in the book, this is a good minimum guide to follow for the significant events in their stories.

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Back to work …

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 25, 2015 at 7:07 am

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