Monday, November 17, 2008

I Wish They Had More Than Just Yellow

I had planned to use a picture as the base of today's post, but Ibis already left and took the camera. The rest of my morning has gone steadily downhill. Not bad, but it's almost 11am and I don't feel like I've accomplished anything.

There seems to be a lot of blog chatter lately about outlining vs not, and if you do outline, what form that takes. Some swear by sloppy notebooks while others write such extensive outlines they can cross-check every minor detail in their characters lives. I fall somewhere between the two.

I handwrote my first novel so my notes were also handwritten. I left a couple pages at the front blank so I could keep track of characters and other things like that, but soon my thoughts spilled to stickies and the little yellow papers were plastered all over my notebook. The important ones were stuck to my monitor - especially after I changed everyone's name and couldn't keep track of them anymore. I felt a little disorganized but it worked.

This time around I'm doing all my work on the computer, so my outline is also electronic. I'm using word and I've put the "heading" style to work, tagging all my characters and chapters so I can quickly jump to whichever I need. So far it's working, but I kind of miss my stickies. Nothing says "I'm hard at work" than notes strewn about. When my desk is too clean I feel like I'm not busy enough.

Now back to that picture. I do have two stickies on my desk and that's what I'd hoped to take a picture of. Each is a rough sketch of my two families' living rooms. One has a hallway along the stairs leading to the kitchen, while in the other you walk through the living room to get to the kitchen. A minor detail, but I can picture it much easier this way and I don't have them house-hopping. ;) Oh, and there's one on the top of my monitor that's a general writing note. It says:

Telling
He felt
He thought
He knew
He wondered
He watched

It's really helped me catch those moments when I try to take the easy way out.

What about you? Do you have stickies on your monitor? What do they say?

*****

For those of you who enjoyed my cockroach story the other day, I thought I'd let you know I had an EXACT reenactment last night. I opened a cupboard for a snack and fifteen minutes later the contents were on the counter and I was spraying like there was no tomorrow. After a futile attempt at escape, the thing flung itself to the ground FROM THE CUPBOARD ABOVE MY HEAD. I let out a blood-curdling scream as it landed on it's back, legs flailing. And you know what happened next? I grabbed the broom and made him my neighbor's problem.

28 comments:

spyscribbler said...

Oh my gawd! Frightening! I would be FREAKING out. I'd have nightmares. And I'm dead serious. I practically have nightmares from your stories of them!

I scribble notes in this little tiny notebook sometimes, but I generally forget to look. I scribble notes in other places on my computer, but never look.

This is why, by the time I finish my novella, I've read it at least a hundred times.

Melanie Avila said...

I wasn't kidding when I said I'm terrified EVERY time I open the cupboards. Sometimes they're hanging out on the doors. *shudder*

See, that's why I like stickies. I made notes while writing my other novel - reminders of things to come (that was my 'outline') - but I had to remember to check them. This time around I have a couple paragraphs summarizing each chapter and I just follow along.

Nadine said...

LOL - Loved the cockroach story.

As for notes, I usually write on whatever piece of paper is in front of me near the monitor. Then I have to be careful that my husband doesn't think it's scrap paper.

Hmm.. Maybe I should invest in some stickies.

Jen said...

Ugh. Ewwww! Poor Mel. That would completely freak me out. *hugs*

I usually do my actual writing on the computer, and outlines, too. I make notes in notebooks or legal pads. This morning, though, I started the outline on the NaNo book and did the first act on a legal pad. It's broad strokes, but it's six handwritten pages. My hand hurts a little now, lol. And I have the basis I need to figure out which scenes I need to write, and the backstory I need to flesh out for my own benefit. Time consuming, but it's working.

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, I guess I'm lucky my husband doesn't clean? lol.

Melanie Avila said...

Jen, that sounds like a lot of work but it sounds like it works for you. I hope the story comes together for you the way you plan!

Robin said...

Oh, dear. That's so GROSS! I'm so sorry. I'll send a letter to the head cockroach protesting this blatant invasion of your home, and threatening legal action. I hope it works. (Don't tell him I'm not a lawyer. Shhhhh.)

I don't use stickies, but I bought really cool stickies this weekend, so maybe I'll start.

WendyCinNYC said...

OMG, stickies. I live by stickies. Mine are all reminders to add or delete something:

--Change investment banker to corporate lawyer
--Dad: truck driver? inspector?
--Change mom's name

and then there are misc. non-writing related stickies:

--Union Club catering 212-XXX-XXXX
--Call Annual Fund families
--N's fencing tournament 11/22 @11am


Hey, you asked.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, you must give in to the stickies.

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, LOL. I just threw away one that had a lot of random notes about a plot element. I'm including newspaper articles periodically that give details about the crime that it wouldn't make sense for the MCs to talk about. I figured out a different way to treat them, blah blah... and there's a note in the middle that the little girl wears braids her first day back at school, but then some boys pull them, undoing mom's attempt to make her feel better. This story is so depressing.

Travis Erwin said...

I'm totally a panster and more and more I'm beginning to think that may be my problem. I think I rely too much on character and voice.

turkey lurkey said...

Ive written both ways. I managed to get more done when I wrote by the seat of my pants. When I outline, I rely on the notes to be there for me if I decide to leave my WIP for a while. Therefore, outlining has given me permission to leave my WIP. I still haven't finished it!

*Stomps on Mel's bugs* "crunch crunch"

colbymarshall said...

See, I feel the opposite. If my desk isn't clean, I've got to clean off my desk before I can get anything done! I like to feel the space/be spaced out, whichever comes first :-)

Rachel Burton said...

No stickies here, but I wish I did. They make you look like the busy, slightly disorganized, writer-hard-at-work. I have a catch-all document called "notes" for each of my WIPS which includes a brief outline, character descriptions, plot problems I need to solve and random sentences I think up I might want to stick in the story somewhere. And anything else that pops into my head. It ain't pretty.

Janna Qualman said...

I haven't yet resorted to sticking them on the frame of my monitor (though I do have a small piece of paper taped up there; it has the one sentence that explains Bliss Lake's premise, so I'd stay focused), but they usually dot my desk. When I get moved upstairs I'll have more space around me, and I'll likely have notes and books everywhere!

Melanie Avila said...

Travis, see I like having the outline because then I don't have to think about what happens - I can concentrate on the characters more.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Turkey. Now who gets to clean up the mess?

Melanie Avila said...

Colby, I'm the same as you, but I like to have my writing stuff around me. Right now the only things on my desk besides computer stuff are the two stickies mentioned in the post, my water, and a bowl holding the beads from a bracelet that broke. Very clean. :)

Melanie Avila said...

And Rachel, you've expressed why I like to have my notes all over the place. It's the idea that writers are disorganized and too focused on their craft to worry about cleaning. Since I'm an anal nutjob I feel like throwing a few bits of paper around makes me legit, lol.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I wish I had a space that wasn't right in the middle of everything. And also wasn't susceptible to strong breezes that send everything flying!

Amy Nathan said...

Someone tried to teach me how to do those tag-thingies. I never figured it out. I can do a find/replace. That's way fun. I have notes in my word docs in track changes - but I don't know how I'm going to keep it all straight when I go back to Page 1 for a revision and a rewrite. So, yes, I'll be blogging about this more and LOVE suggestions and help!! I do I do!

Melanie Avila said...

Amy, I've used the tracked changes a little, but mostly when I needed to do a little research about that particular thing. Otherwise I made a note in the body with brackets and made it a heading.

I don't know if it's the same for Macs and PCs, but I have the toolbar with typeface, size, etc displayed and there's a drop-down menu with Paragraph formats. Among the defaults is one called Heading 1. If you select a word (like Chapter 1) then click Headline 1, it should appear as a heading. Oh! And you have to have the window with the table of contents appearing to see it.

Once you apply the heading, you can click on that heading in the TOC and it'll jump to that section of your wip.

Pink Ink said...

I miss cockroaches.

Well, not really :-) but I used to see spectacular bugs in the Philippines all the time, and I'm sad that my kids miss out on that.

I have stickies all over my desk, but nothing related to writing! I put my notes on my draft pages and hope I find them again someday.

Penguin said...

About the cockroaches.........

You know they crawl upwards don't you?

Melanie Avila said...

Pink, you miss them? Oy. I can send a few your way if you want. ;)

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, they also fly. I've watched a couple swoop through my living room while watching tv. That didn't make me very happy.

aaroncrocco said...

The sticky note about 'Telling' is a great idea. I may need to steal that one. While it's not a major problem in my writing, it is something all writers do by nature.

Also, good hand-off of your bug problem! :-)

Melanie Avila said...

Aaron, it's helped me just by being there.