Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Turning Your Writing Into a Work of Art - Literally! (Part 1 of ?)

*** before I go on, I'd like to announce a bonus post at the end of this one :-)

I love to read about other writers' and artists' methods for producing their art. Their process. So, today I thought I would share a bit of mine.

I write much like a movie director shoots a film's scenes - in no particular order. Maybe I do this because I write screenplays? Or maybe I am truly ADD and refuse to medicate myself? At any rate, for my latest novel, I wrote the eight to ten "power scenes" first. And once again, they were in no particular order. I just knew they had to happen. After that, I would generally wake up and read one of them, chosen at random, and then try to write either what would lead into that scene, or what might happen right after it. Therefore, I still have large chunks of space in between these free floating, powerful icebergs. Now, don't get me wrong, I know what needs to go in these spaces, I just haven't found the words to fill them yet.

A writer friend of mine came over the other day and we were discussing our methods. She is one of those people I am usually jealous of--she writes page one, chapter one and then follows it with chapter two and three and so on... I call these people "Linear Thinkers." She told me that her professor required all of his Linear Thinkers to physically cut up their manuscripts and attempt to rearrange the scenes. To ask themselves, what would happen if this chapter happened first? Or what if this happened after that? etc...

I jumped on this idea. And although potentially terrifying to a linear person, I felt right at home chopping mine up. I am reminded of SF's killer novel, Paper Tiger. Not to give the story away, but it centers around an artistically gifted child, who at one point, paints a fabulous painting, only to be asked by her teacher to cut it up, rearrange the pieces and then glue them down in another way. Fascinating. So I did this with my manuscript. And honestly, it wasn't all that helpful for the ADD thinker.

But, right after that, I remembered that SF and I have a Screenwriter/Director friend here who does this exercise in another way. She...
well, maybe I shouldn't tell you today. Yep. I'll save that idea for part two -- 'Cuz it's cool and I think I'll try it next. I'm pretty sure it WILL help my disjointed, yet lovely way of writing :-) And it was designed for screenplays which is the way my brain thinks. I can't wait!


Hardygirl said...

Aw, man. Thanks for calling my novel "killer." I hope every writer out there has a friend like you--someone who constantly builds them up with encouragement.

I think my process is more of a combination of the linear and "cut up" approach. My first draft tends to look like splattery paint thrown all over the place, but when I go back and read it, I think very straight-line (that is, once I've got the structure outlined). The second part for me is like working a puzzle. I get all those random, disjointed pieces to somehow fit my structure, and I throw the rest away . . . well, I actually copy the leftovers into a document called "rejects" on my computer in case I need them later (although, I have never gone back and looked at that reject file).

I'm with you--I love hearing about writers' processes. Anyone else got something to share??

Sara said...

My rough draft is all about finding the puzzle pieces. THEN I have to go put it all together. Somehow.

I love the idea of thinking of it as a movie shoot.

Katie said...

Thanks for the info guys! I might have to interrupt this broadcast to do some presidential talk...

SF, have you seen the Ford Center all lit up? I called the Eagle to get a pic. It's wicked cool!

And today I heard of some peeps who were leaving town cuz they were scared of some kind of terrorist attack. Are they crazy? I told the girls I was gonna be all up in it! haha Me and Mimes, gorilla blogging from the Grove. Law-dy!!!

The Bill Cochran said...

if I have a brain that will allow Interesting post such a thing thought to write in not sure me to do a nonlinear way I hadn't

(after piecing it together): Interesting post. I hadn't thought to write in a nonlinear way, not sure if I have a brain that will allow me to do such a thing.

Katie said...
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Katie said...
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Katie said...

Gracious Bill! I had some technical errors there for a minute!

lol. I was thinking, "What the heck is he saying???!!!"

Hope all is well!


Katie said...

oh! and Sara and SF - thanks for describing the puzzle process. So we now have the linear thinkers, the puzzle process and the ADD iceberg process.

And "Bill's process." an original.

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