Michille: My Turn to Plan

Callahan Family Cover 1Like the other 8Ladies, I have big plans for this fall which I hope will set me up to submit to the Golden Heart contest. I have two completed manuscripts and two partials in a four-book series. The first two, which are the completed, were written before I took the McD craft classes. The third is a partial and written during the classes and the fourth is a partial and is my MLA project. Without digging too deeply, I think the two partials are a result of craft paralysis. I can still get some great stuff on the page, but when it’s time to go back and flesh out and edit, I get bogged down in craft and don’t get any further.

I decided to go back to the beginning. I really want to sell this as a series, so it makes sense to fix the first one to the point of publication-ready, and then go back and fix the others in order. I am looking at this through rose-colored glasses and saying this is a good thing. I have enough of each written that I will be better able to layer characters, metaphor, motif, theme, etc, through the four.

The first thing I plan to do is chart all four books. I write using the Hero’s Journey as the plot structure. I also use Pam Regis’s 8 essential and 3 accidental elements of a romance. So I’m going to take each of the structure outlines I have and put them together in one big spreadsheet. I’m hoping to see or develop patterns that will help make the stories more cohesive.

Then the main focus will be on Manuscript 1 – Collide. I have a first scene that is more of a prologue. It would work well in a screenplay as an opening, dreamy scene that gets explained as the movie progresses. I was very hung up on that scene because it was the first thing that came to me when I started down the writing road and was the first scene I ever wrote. Now, several years later, I realize that it has to go (sigh).

I haven’t re-read this old manuscript since I started the McD classes. I’m sure it is morbidly awful, but I’m hoping to breathe new life into it by the GH deadline.

Actually, one more thing I should do is clean up my workspace, like Elizabeth did. My desk area has gotten cluttered with books, and cameras, and flotsam and jetsam and it needs to be purged.

Planning done. Declutter next. And time to get to work.

4 thoughts on “Michille: My Turn to Plan

  1. It really must be the time of year that has us all moving in this direction.

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re focusing on this as an entire series. I think that’s a great idea. And charting the books, interweaving over-arching series plot lines into each book, working in recurring characters – that’s the puzzle-solving part of writing that I love so much! I hope you’ll have fun with it.

    • I hope I do too. It will be very motivating if I do. I do think all of us 8L are ready to breakout. We’ve internalized that year of amazing craft learning, took another year to process it all, and now can actually do. I’m finally feeling empowered with the craft knowledge instead of overwhelmed and under-gifted.

  2. I have three “let’s get things planned and let’s get shit done” times of year: early September (a holdover from my school days? Or hard-wired from generations of people who had to harvest?), December/January (New Year’s is a fun motivator for me), and March/April (sometimes May — spring cleaning and the Japanese school year starts in April).

    Michille, do you think you might try to track Book 1 to a classic story with a Hero’s Journey, like Book 4? I thought what I saw was remarkably effective. They say there are only so many plots/motivations in the world, so surely there’s something from classical literature that could serve as inspiration with the underlying motivations of Book 1. You might bog into craft paralysis, though.

    “Craft paralysis.” That’s a great term, by the way. Sometimes remembering a craft tip or hint helps goose me out of the doldrums, but just as often, I can be stuck in a rut and rejecting possible solutions because they seem to be uncrafty. Or I reject (and stop writing) some bit of discovery because it’s just boring and back-story (again, uncrafty). Of course in real-life craft, there’s a lot of bits and pieces that wind up in the trash can, and I must remember that.

    • Actually, you hit it on the head, Michaeline. I am going back and tracking all 4 stories to the Hero’s Journey (the 4th was created that way). Just like Justine’s post about Jung recently, I am all about Jungian psychology and the universal archetype. There is only one story.

      And just as we’ve all said, life gets in the way some times. And I happen to be in a place where life is definitely in the way, but is also motivating me to DO. If you want it, make it happen. Passivity leads to nothing. Doing something leads to . . . more.

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