It’s week 34! I was writing about some of my experiences here in Mexico. There was the possibility of a cute story sitting right here in front of me.
Right away, I could tell my story was going to be long and rambling. I started again. On the second try, things weren’t going much better. So I tried a completely new tactic.
I wrote by numbers. I looked at the story from a technical/structural point of view. I looked at the story as if there would be 24 written pages on 12 spreads. I numbered a page from one to twelve. Then I made a quick outline of the plot, dividing it into twelve sections. This took some manipulation and moving of items around until I had a structure I liked. Next I took another page and divided it into twelve sections of four lines each. This was the space I had to write my story. I stared writing. I would simply look at my first list and write whatever section was next. The section could be shorter than four lines, but not longer (a couple did go longer, I’ll admit).
Good things that came from this. 1. I got the story written and it was pretty easy. 2. I was able to get to the meat of the story without a lot of fluff. 3. It was easy to see how the plot was progressing and to see my character arches. 4. It helped me create reasons for the reader to turn the page. 5. I could visualize the illustrations. 6. I was more economical with my words.
Not so good things that came from this. 1. I didn’t feel as free with my writing. 2. The dialogue suffered. 3. My voice and the characters’ voices were stifled. All of this can be worked out in rewrites, so they aren’t big problems.
I don’t think this is a technique I will use very often, but it was certainly helpful in this case. I can see trying it again if I feel my story is getting away from me.