27 August 2012

Chapter-by-chapter outlining

There's a lot of background work
for the collection!
I'm an outliner when it comes to writing. It helps me think about the story as a whole. And, in the case of the collection, it will help me think about the community of the people and their stories, and how everything fits together.

I already have a basic outline for the coffee house book, as well as synopses for the other books in the collection. Since I'm still doing all the background writing and research, what I have is fine for now.

However, as it gets closer to time to actually start writing the coffee house book, my intent is to take the outline a step further by creating detailed outlines for each individual chapter. I think I've mentioned before that the characters are the driving force in the books, and because of this, the simple outline I currently have for the coffee house book is adequate for background work, but is really a skeleton outline. I need to fill in the holes to be able to move forward.

Essentially, what I intend to do is sit down with the coffee house book outline, and write the chapter outlines as if each chapter stood independent of the rest of the chapters (and collection). When I have that done, I'll fit the chapters together within the larger work of the coffee house book (there is a loose story arc that ties the chapters together, after all), and think about how the coffee house book fits into the larger collection. When all those threads are put together, I'll have an extremely detailed outline for the coffee house book, and I'll be ready to start writing!

Not every story needs this kind of outlining. Many stories I've written don't. But because of how integrated everything is in the collection, I think it's necessary to do. Tedious, maybe. But necessary.

Do you outline before you write? How detailed are your outlines?

25 August 2012

Even in the midst of chaos, there is writing....

I haven't done a lot of writing-for-pleasure this month. I started a new job career and have had many changes occurring in my personal life, so other things have taken priority. And yet, even as busy as I've been, I can't stop thinking about the coffee house book.

The good news is that after Labor Day weekend, things will be a little different, and I'll actually have time to make time for the collection.

I have been working on the coffee house book a little, here and there, but only moments at a time, and just enough to remind me that I do need to write it, and the stories will never leave me alone until I do.

Examples of my writing task lists
I have a list of notes and tasks that I need to do for the collection. I still have a lot of background work to do for the collection. I need to do some research into a few areas so I feel a little more confident writing about them. More importantly, I haven't finished the character biographies for the coffee house book (or the rest of the town), so that's the first priority. My coffee house book outline is solid, so once the background work is done, I'll be ready for the first draft. And I know a few people who will be eager to read a draft when it's ready.

I wish I could start writing the chapters or the biographies I have, but this collection just doesn't work that way. The characters in the coffee house book are interwoven with each other, and with the characters in the other books. I have to have a good foundation for that before I start writing.

I have started stories that didn't get finished. I've started novels that didn't get finished. And those characters were content in the half-scribblings I did for them, storing the pages away in a folder or a drawer. But these characters are different. The collection is different. The coffee house book has been following me around since 2004, and no matter what else I work on, or where else my writing takes me, the coffee house characters are there, begging to be written. And now I can finally tell their stories.

10 August 2012

Well, hello, weekend.

My first week at my shiny new job has come to a close, and I'm still here!

It was a bit of a chaotic week at the beginning, but I enjoyed the craziness, getting to know the members of the Marketing Team, and sort of getting settled into a new routine. (Of course, this "routine" will change after next week when I go partial-remote, and then again at the beginning of September since Puck and Tink will be home and thrown into the mix.) It's been a good week to get me started.

Of course, this Friday is different from any other Friday I've had in about four years because it actually means something. Now that I'm no longer a freelance writer, I have weekends again, and I know that tomorrow morning I can sleep in and I don't have to work. It's strange to think that. I'll be able to get caught up on housework, do some reading, maybe even hang out with friends. And I don't have to work.

One particular thing I'd like to do this weekend is to get the coffee house book back in shape. I've been greatly neglecting it (but haven't stopped thinking about it) for quite some time due to many of the changes in my personal life, and now that my schedule is different, I may actually have time to finish up the background work for the collection and write the coffee house book. Finally.

I will take some time this weekend to talk about my job a little more, and some other fun, exciting things that are coming up. In the meantime, have a happy Friday!

03 August 2012

Closing up shop....

Today is my last official day as a full-time freelance writer. Monday will be my first day at my shiny new job. (Squee!)

It's a strange feeling to know that on Monday I won't be a freelancer anymore. I'll still be freelancing for a little while; I have some projects to finish up before I'm completely done, but those will be on the side, and my primary focus will be on my new position as a Marketing Communications Writer. It's been strange closing out the freelance side of my life. I've been freelancing since 2008, and now I won't be anymore. I have to change my mindset quite a bit. Not only do I not have to allocate part of my time to seeking clients and work, but I'll get my weekends back. I liked having a flexible schedule as a freelance writer, but I'm looking forward to the structure of my new job. I know that when I get home, I can be fully at home and give my full attention to the kids. (And if that isn't enough, I'll have free time to dedicate to the coffee house book!)

I'm not fully sure what to expect yet. I have an idea of my responsibilities, of course. I know what a copy writer in a marketing department does. But this is a new field for me. Starting Monday, I work for a company that creates software for the heavy duty trucking industry. I know a little bit about software and technology, but the trucking industry is new to me.

The good news, though, is that I'm in the marketing department. I can do marketing writing. I've done it before. In fact, my new job description is very similar to the job description I had when I was working at my alma mater. I liked that job quite a lot, and I'm looking forward to flexing some of those writing muscles again.

I still have lots to do before Monday, but I'm ready. It's time to bid farewell to the freelancing adventure and start a new one.