Lists!

(For those of you checking on the contest from last Friday, tune in tomorrow for the winner. That means you have until midnight tonight to give us your suggestions!)

I tend to make lists for everything. I'm not sure when I started, and I'm not sure what I use them for, but I guarantee if you open up my purse (or my desk drawer, or my notepad) you'll find over a dozen scribbled lists. Plot ideas, things to research, character names to use, book genres, books to buy…you name it, I've made a list of it.

Here's the current list I'm toying with:

#1 - No. Just no.
#2 - Use the good pieces. Fates.
#3 - Fix 'fire' plot element. Needs heavy redraft
#4 - Complete Rewrite
#5 - Sold!
#6 - Add 2nd POV. Redraft so H is less stick-in-the-mud.
#7 - Subbed
#8 - POV switch, redraft
#9 - Add 2nd POV. Emphasize 'plot' plot.
#10 - Submitted

In case you haven't already guessed, that's a list of my 'completed' novels (completed being the operative word). You'll see that there's only three I'm truly happy with. The others are in various stages of repair or dissection.

What does this list accomplish? Not a whole heck of a lot, to be honest. I probably won't reference it again. In fact, I *know* I won't reference it again. I never look at any of my lists again.

So why do I write them? Organization, baby.

See, I'm a very 'mental' writer (I hear Anton laughing out there). All my story bits are floating in my head in this messy hodgepodge. Somewhere in the middle of the clutter are to-do projects, and things I need to do this weekend, and ideas I have for other items.

(Which reminds me. This weekend I want to do: 1k in N-M, 1k in T-B, 1k in S, and 1k in V)

Writing down things in lists helps me focus. It gets these items out of the random swirl in my head and in a distinct line. I think it through, and I feel better - and more organized - now that it's all written out in a row and pretty to look at. I won't look at it again, of course. I don't need to. Conscious thought and repetition has cemented it in my brain.

And this is why I write my synopsis halfway through a novel.

I don't need one at the beginning, of course. That's when you have the initial heady rush of writing. Stuff is slamming onto the page and the world is your oyster. You can add anything to the book and it's not wrong - yet. It's like juggling. You're tossing a lot of stuff into the air, and nothing's coming down yet.

But when you get 30 or 40k into the book, and you have a lot of plots and subplots and motivations that you're juggling, all those balls you've tossed into the air suddenly become a lot to juggle. What if you forget a piece? I've done that. It's no fun to try and go back and squeeze it into what is otherwise a tight, seamless narrative.

So I put a list at the end of my working document. I list out everything that's floating in my head, and forces me to think of everything I need to include. It emphasizes it to my brain. It says "Okay, don't forget this piece!"

And then I continue writing. I might not reference it again (I usually 'enter' down a few pages so I don't constantly see my list of notes) but it's there if I need it. And as I progress through the story, I check my list from time to time. Some of the stuff I don't need anymore. Some was used (quite brilliantly, I might add), and some is still waiting to be used. I delete what I don't need and keep going. By the time I'm done with the book, my list is gone too.

So there you go. There's my crazy writer quirk: lists. Great for helping you outline to 'juggle' all those balls.

(Not so good when your husband discovers the list of xmas presents you just bought. Oops.)

Comments

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