14 May

The Quicksand Mire of Book Project Supplies...


The objects are plenty.
Sticky notes, binders, story boards, loose-leaf paper, notebooks, the backs of cocktail napkins, toilet paper, your sandwich wrapper...
All colorful, multi-textured.
All meaningful, purposeful.
All exciting, thrilling to collect and to organize and to display.
You thought for once I'd be on the newbie writer side.
Ha! Fooled ya!
You seriously do not know me and my skill at offending all 'n' sundry.
I have witnessed multitudes of new writers gather and show and talk about the plethora of stationery supplies they've commercially coveted and slobbered over in their "supposed" crafting of that Great American novel...that NEVER GETS FINISHED.
Crikey, if I had a nickel for every sticky note and chapter tab bought and used that amounted to nothing in the way of a completed book, the super yacht I'd be building would be bigger than Bezos'!
And let's not even go down the road as to the time wasted playing with these desk top toys... 
*enter elevator muzak while I hang myself from sheer despondency*
Your conjured tale doesn't take an ark's worth of office gadgets to facilitate words down on a screen or on paper. Seriously, peeps. I know you think differently, but you're fooling yourself.
You've decided that it's "working on your novel" if you're out buying those supplies, organizing binders and color-coding story boards and filling the edges of your monitor with sticky notes. 
If friends or family ask, "Have you started writing that book?"
You think by fiddling with this stuff you can honestly say, "Yes, well, yes, I have! Aren't I The Special One!"
Oh, you're "special" alright... to the manager of your neighborhood Staples store as he counts that day's takings...$$$
What was your receipt total again? $56.99
Well, good for you! You're a Charlie Sheen winner!
"How many paragraphs did you write on said book today?" I ask.
"Uh, none, cuz, well, by the time I got home from Staples...and then the dog was hungry, and after dinner with the family, it took me time to unpack the bags..."
*enter elevator muzak while I get a stronger rope with which to hang myself again, and this time for realzies*
Peeps, stop screwing around.
I get it.
I know you're scared shitless.
You think you're a fraud, a fake.
Who are YOU to think a book is possible?
Your attempt at writing a book is laughable... once you get up from your crying jag in that fetal position in the corner of your bedroom...
But you want to write a book, gosh darn it! And besides, you've told EVERYBODY you're going to.
Stop. Just stop with the silliness. Dry your eyes. Here's a tissue.
*hands silly newbie book writer a tissue*
You CAN write that book.
You know how?
By grabbing any level medium and any old writing tool and scribbling down words, one right after the other, until you write, The End.
No muse.
No rocket science.
No taking out a second mortgage to afford to buy all that crap at Staples.
Pick one thing, one simple thing, to house your scene details.
Put those things in order.
Flip each as you write out each scene.
I don't care what you pick - notebook paper, recipe cards, birchbark strips, toilet paper squares - just pick ONE, write 1-2 lines on each describing each scene, put them in a pile, and start flipping.
Geez, if writing books were rocket science I'd be banned from writing books. There's a reason why the Irish are good with words and don't build bridges... Sorry, *ahem*, got on a tangent tear there...
A Real World Example:
My recent manuscript, AIR, came in at around the epic literary length of 115,000. That's after line edits - two - and a ROL - Read Out Loud - edit, and after my naval expert beta.
The entire book was crafted from...*drum roll*...
Plain old recipe cards like the ones your mom used to write down her mother-in-law's Sunday dinner recipes that she wouldn't make in a month of Sundays because her mother-in-law was a lousy cook.
You know, THOSE recipe cards. 
The photo above, showing all my scene cards for AIR, is the entire book in a 4x6 rectangle nutshell. Below, I'll explain the paper clips you see there as well.
You can buy recipe cards for super cheap in a dollar store or go whole-hog-highfalutin with the executive kind at Staples if you're still jonesin' to spend dough. It's a free country.
I advise buying the BLANK ones, so your creative mind won't be stymied by the lines. Blank ones can also facilitate small diagrams drawn or what have you that might come in handy for scene cues.
1-2 summary sentences explaining what this scene is about - its plot purpose/character motivation and/or evolution/devolution.
NOT chapter cards, scene cards. Don't think rationally, think creatively.
Worry later which scenes get lumped into which chapters.
Paper Clips: I've attached cards BEHIND each scene card - I call Factoid cards - that hold extraneous information - scientific and/or historic facts/data, quotes/poems/lyrics to be used, dialogue lines - basically any outstanding info I'll need to complete that scene. You can color code those factoid cards to denote certain subject matter if you choose - exs. green for quotes, blue for science/data, brown for historical data etc. Also, you can put emergency add-ins cards at the front of the pile, maybe written in red, of details you forgot to write into the first draft. 
Note: color coding is NOT a must. Only do if it makes you find what you're looking for quicker. This step is not for fun, peeps.
Fill out these cards with all the scenes from start to finish, as you know them now.
They can be changed, deleted, altered in their line-up at ANY time.
They can be carted with you in your pocket, a couple at a time, to an outside venue, when you do NOT want to plug into a device. (Yes, Scrivener has the same virtual deal, but those cards aren't real. You need to be on your computer to access those. Why limit yourself? And why pay for Scrivener when any word processing blank page will do?)
With my first novel, my mother was ill and in the hospital where Wi-Fi wasn't available. I wrote most of that novel from those cards, on paper in endless waiting rooms.
Note: You do NOT have to adopt my method.
I'm just saying choose ONE, one SIMPLE and EASY to use medium that is CHEAP on money and stingy on your time.
What counts isn't your project supply chain. It's those words down on paper. However they get there, they get there. Don't reinvent the wheel to get there, and waste scads of time and money in the process.
Now, be off with you!
Scene on!

No comments: