Birth of a Book: Week 2 #amwriting

acorns-57305_1280To plan, or not to plan, this is the question

I’m more of a planner, than a pantser, which means I can’t get very far into a new novel without putting a bit of flesh on the bones of my scraps of story outline.  Those three or four pages need to evolve into a chapter-by-chapter summary before I begin to feel even a little bit comfortable about where things are going.

I’m not obsessive about it. I won’t end up with 10,000 words, perhaps 3,000 all told, in table format, so I can juggle the chapters around. (And no… so far, for those who are interested in this kind of thing – no Scrivener, just MSWord.) I write a few lines about what happens in each chapter, plus – and this is very important – a note of qualification; an answer to the question… what is this chapter doing in the story? That means either (i) how is the chapter moving the story forward, or (ii) what is it telling the reader about a key character. If it doesn’t do one or the other, it has no business being in the story.

So planning has taken up what time I allocated this week, and I’m satisfied that things are taking shape. I’m about half way through, and I’m pretty sure i know where the rest is going – that’s for next week. When I’m done, I can pick my way forward through the chapters, knowing what I need to write.

Do things change as I go along? You bet they do. Things I think will work, don’t. Things I’ve forgotten, emerge. Characters evolve in ways I hadn’t anticipated. New ideas arrive. So I’m certain I’ll be re-engineering my chapter-by-chapter as I go along. That’s a given. But wherever it goes, I have to begin with a plan.

Planning aside, I’m determined to keep up with my minimum 500-word commitment (I can’t allow myself fail after just 2 weeks). So Saturday saw me out in the garden with my laptop, bashing my way to 800 words.  Hardly a stellar performance, but the plan came first this week; that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Oh… and one other thing – a happy motivational moment. Singled Out hit that magic 100 sold copies milestone this week.  It got there with the aid of a promoted post on Facebook of which, more later, once the promo is over and I know whether or not I broke even or got ahead by a few quid. Still… One. Hundred. Sold. Copies. Break even or not, it was worth it.

I’m a minnow in an ocean of self-publishing fish, but I confess, I feel chuffed. It’s a start. Onward and upward.

18 thoughts on “Birth of a Book: Week 2 #amwriting

  1. I love reading about the writing process! Keep up the blog posts as well as the writing. Fantastic news on the book sales milestone!

  2. You made a great point there about knowing where and why the chapter fits in the story. If it doesn’t push the plot forward it puts a drag on the reading.

    100 real sales! What a wonderful milestone! The more books you can get out there, the more you’ll sell. I’ll definitely be one of the first to find out what Brenda does next. 🙂

  3. I’m a planner too. A pretty massive one, in fact. But like you, it doesn’t mean I’m cemented into the story. Things can change and often do. For me, it’s much easier to make those changes in a first draft than have to do it in the fifth because I missed a plot hole. Whatever gets us writing is the way we should do it, whether plotter or pantser.

    Congrats on the milestone!

  4. Congratulations on the garden-writing strategy (let’s see you try to pull that one off in December) and the terrific achievement in passing the ‘100 sales’ milestone. That’s really great. Now then, regarding your thoughts on minnows, I wonder if there are actually many smaller minnows around? We here about the mega success stories, but how can we ever know how many great and not so great books achieve sales that barely make sales into double figures? I’d say you’re doing really well 🙂

    1. I can pretty much guarantee there will be no garden-writing in December! Maybe Costa Coffee writing, just to mix it up a bit? I do sometimes need to shift away from my desk and the garden is convenient. Having benefited from a little care and attention this summer, it’s become quite a nice place to work on a sunny afternoon.

      As for being in minnow, it’s all relative, I guess – and it doesn’t help to try and compare oneself with the Hugh Howeys or the Rachel Abbotts. The statistics on self-published authors are impossible to assimilate – and wouldn’t we all love to know – but I imagine it might just about be within my grasp to break the 250 barrier – that’s a stretching target for a one-book (so far) author. Perhaps marginally easier once there’s a second book. Which there will be…

      We all grapple with the question of ‘discoverability’. There are great books out there – yours is definitely one of them – but how do readers find us?

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