Snow Camping, Horses, Volcanoes and Crossbows

Once again, I find myself writing three chapters in parallel. I’m self-trained about fiction writing (shows, right?), so I’ve drawn my own insights. In this instance, my insistence on writing chapters in threes reflects my thinking. I begin with an introduction to the situation and expand on it. That’s chapter one. The next chapter is the buildup and climax, while the third chapter is the activity afterward and the denouement.

It’s not always this way, but this is what typically happens with the main chapters or sections. Other chapter types I call bridges and pivots. A bridge chapter links previously written chapters or sections, while the pivot lets me change direction. No, I don’t always write from the beginning to the end, but in scenes and sections. I read the other day that some writers begin with the ending, and work backward. They don’t begin writing until they’ve figured out that ending.

This week’s writing is slow but steady, hampered by research requirements. I am visual (hear me roar) in my nature, so I like visualizing things. If I know too little to visualize them, my writer calls, “Road trip!”, and off we go.

This road trip lasted a week. Can you I tell you how much I knew about horses when I started?



Exactly. Jumping on the information superhighway, we sought information about horses. Fortunately, another blogger posted a link to “How to Write Horses Wrong: 8 Red Flags” by Rachel Chaney, on Dan Koboldt’s site, which was a helpful starting point. Next, we hunted information on crossbows. Let me tell you, I know more about horses than crossbows, which should confirm how little I know.

Onward to more familiar and safer subjects, but which I required deeper and broader knowledge, snow camping and volcanoes. These were more of a refresher nature but also provided opportunity to remember important details.

I’m beginning the third chapter today. Besides being slowed by research, I wrote notes in parallel, and updated the bible. At one point, I also outlined these three chapters. I’m an organic writer by nature. I like the spontaneity organic writing provides. When things become complicated, I stop and write an outline. The outline is not deep, but a series of points to tie together. This outline was less than one page. It helped me firm what I’d visualized and permitted me to track and develop the action while adding the verisimilitude my research provided. Although I consider myself an organic writer, I’ve come to evolve into a hybrid writer, outlining pieces when needed, and following the lights through the dark the rest of the time.

Hybrid, organic, outliner, and pantser are convenient conversation and reference labels. They don’t tie me to anything. During the course of cultivating myself as a writer, I learned that I needed to develop a process that works for me. I’m not static. I hope that I continue to learn and improve. I expect it my process to change as I do. That is absolutely cool. What works for this novel may not work for the next one.

Doesn’t matter. I’ll do what it takes. The key to progress is putting words on paper, getting it to flow, keeping it coherent, logical, and true to itself, with a grammar and style that others will read, and finishing, with the caveat that finishing the novel’s writing process means just that; it still ain’t a book, and it’s probably not ready for publication. That was another lesson learned.

As an aside, because I became curious, the first two chapters in this section are fifteen pages and forty-eight hundred words. According to Word and the properties section, I started it on November tenth, spent five hundred forty-eight minutes on it, and last modified it yesterday at two oh three in the afternoon. Looking at the word count, over five days, I’ve written less than a thousand words per day. Like I said, slow writing, but necessary – and satisfying.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.


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