My writing plan for 2020 worked really well until about mid-March when Covid-19 became the only topic of conversation with everyone I know. That's when I discovered - or rediscovered - that I don't work very well at home.
Instead of being able to go out and sit in a library or a cafe and work uninterrupted for several hours, I'm at home with all the things I've been avoiding for the last several months. I'm still avoiding all those things. It's just that being at home puts those things in the front of my head. I can't avoid looking at my desk which has several piles of papers and books more than a foot deep. I can't avoid noticing the storages boxes of painting equipment I've left open on my office floor because I might need them for the next project.
Just the thought of having to sort through every single piece of paper is enough to do my head in.
It means I've run away into my head, but not in a productive way. I'm reading. Mostly I'm reading romance, and most of that is MM romance. I've also just begun a biography on a Deputy US Marshall from the 1890s. A fascinating life and a very tough man.
All this means my writing projects are going nowhere quickly.
Morrison & Mackenzie (1930s historical romance): I've created a scene map to check the structure as it isn't working the way it should. That's it. All I need to do is put all the scenes up on my plotting wall and work out where the dips are so I can plan what needs to go there but it hasn't happened yet.
Tangled up in Blue anthology: This is moving forward slowly, mainly because the other authors are relying on me. One of the authors has just completed a continuity check and now we all have lists of things to fix. I'll get that done over the next week. We've also been talking about the cover and working out what we want.
The murder mystery: haven't looked at it. Instead I've been working (intermittently) on another fantasy story, one I started years ago but put aside because it wasn't working. When I picked it up again it was obvious why it wasn't working. I had too many POV characters and I was switching between adult POV and child POV. I've decided to write it as a YA fantasy and remove the adult POV completely. Already it's working better and I've identified missing scenes at the beginning that are needed for the child's POV but were irrelevant from the adult's.
Now Easter is over and my back is beginning to settle, I'm hoping to do more work on these projects. For right now, sending a couple of emails and doing this blog has used up my sitting time for the morning.
My personal life has changed significantly in recent years, specifically with an increase in family responsibilities. This has meant I've had to try to fit my writing in around a lot of things that have felt more demanding.
I have struggled to find balance and finally admitted to myself that I simply didn't have time to do all the things I needed to and wanted to. Not without falling into a screaming heap. Something had to give.
I've made a commitment to reduce my work load. That was the only thing that had any flexibility in it. I'm not going to skimp on the attention my family needs. They always come first.
This year, as a trial, I'll be working four days a week. I'm planning my day off to be focused solely on writing, and I'll factor in another half to one day over the weekend.
My writing goals for 2020 reflect that optimistic plan. I have a LOT to do this year.
My weekly plan looks something like this:
You know where your characters have come from and what has made them the person they are, but what are they doing now and why does it need to change?
Creating a character’s present life is about more than deciding on a job or home for them to live it. You need to know what it is about their life that needs to change. That’s the purpose of your story, isn’t it? Either there’s something about their life that isn’t working and things need to change to make it right, or something happens in the world around them that forces things in their life to change and they need to make it right again.
There are a number of things you can do to get to know what your character’s present is really like. These are some of the things I do:
Goal, Motivation, Conflict (GMC)
Knowing the character’s past and present will give you exactly what you need to know to be able to write your story. Knowing what your character wants, why they want it, and what’s stopping them from getting it provides plot, setting and characterisation all rolled into a couple of easy sentences. Every character will have a compelling GMC, either internal or external. Your primary characters will have both.
I generally write a character’s GMC in two different ways: in a table and in a sentence. I use both for different reasons. I’m a visual learner so I like to have things written down or in diagrams or mind maps. I don’t use mind maps very often because they feel too chaotic for me to keep track of. I prefer to use sentences, lists and tables. GMC works really well in tables and sentences.
The table allows me to ensure I have all the necessary elements of a GMC addressed. All the boxes have to be completed. The sentences written from the table let me check that both internal and external GMC make sense, are logical, reasonable and believable.
The examples given are for Jonah from The Planet Whisperer.
See also: https://au.pinterest.com/eemontgomery11/goal-motivation-and-conflict/
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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