Monday, April 9, 2012

Discovering A Manuscript

I think I'm supposed to write something about the West in our Writer's Compass series but I'm tired and had a long weekend and just remembered I'm supposed to blog. (It's Sunday night as I write this but I'm sure you could figure that out.) So I'm calling an audible.

There is one great benefit to driving a car for 9 straight hours two days in a row. LOTS of time to think. And that means lots of time to plot. Though I'm not sure plotting is the right term. More like gathering ideas, chewing on them for a while and seeing how they settle in my head. (Yeah, that went off somewhere. See "tired" statement above.)

With MEANT TO BE in the can, so to speak, and now venturing into the world (THREE fulls out with agents – whoot!), it's time to get the next book going. The hero and heroine of RIGHT BEFORE HIS EYES (working title – what do you think?) both play a good sized role in MTB, so I know them. At least more than I've ever known my leading character before starting a manuscript. What's surprised me the most as I flesh them out a little more (since I haven't written in either of their POVs) is how perfect they are for each other.

When I initially wrote MTB, at some point I knew I'd throw these two people together, but wasn't sure how it would work. Especially since they're opposites. Or so it appeared. I thought the opposites thing would be their conflict. Turns out, they're way more alike than they are different.

Both are extremely competitive. Both like luxurious things, though one is a more materialistic about it. Both feel deeply and can be stubborn beyond reason.

By some slip of magical accident, I've created two characters who are perfectly matched without knowing I was doing it. Doubt I should take credit for this slight of writerly hand, but I'm going to anyway.

There is still more discovery to come. Thanks to music (I have several songs for the playlist already) a number of scenes have come to mind. All my books have a romantic dance scene and I already have the song picked out for this one – You Don't Know Me (as performed by Michael Bublé.) My heroine has been in love with the hero but he's never seemed to notice her, even those she's always been there Right Before His Eyes.

So what are your tricks for starting a new manuscript? Do you use music? Collage like Jenny Crusie? Outline, write a synopsis, storyboard? How about you pantsers? What's the first thing you do when starting a brand new story?

PS: I've started a Pinterest board for this MS so if you'd like to see my hero, heroine, and heroine's adorable kitten, check it out


MsHellion said...

Your discovery phase reminds me of the story JK Rowling tells about how she started Harry Potter. She didn't have a pen and paper, couldn't write anything down--she could only sit and think and let ideas flow. Sounds like what you've been doing.

I use EVERY trick I can find. However the muse wants to shake it, that's what I'll do. Music, magazines (collages), outlines, storyboards--mostly I'm trying to find the black moment or the inciting incident. I try to find both--and once I have, things sorta evolve from there. :)

Marnee Bailey said...

I'm in the discovery phase too. Well, I have one more scene to adjust (thanks Ter, for your suggestions!) on the current. But I've been thinking about the next an awful lot.

I do a lot of sitting and just daydreaming when I'm in the discovery phase too. I'm going to spend this week cleaning out closets and nothing gets my mind going like doing housework. LOL!

I've had some bad ideas and some that I think might work. I need to do some research about the workings of theaters during the Regency. And I need to look up the details of marriage by proxy. That kind of gives you an idea of how my mind's going, I guess.

Anyway, congrats to Ter on all of her requests! It won't be long before some agent signs her up and she's off!

Stephanie J said...

Music certainly puts me in a specific mindset but I can't say it's ever given me ideas. Damn! Ah, well. I do get inspired by images and I swear the other stuff just randomly pops into my head with no prompting. Research sometimes inspires.

Hurrah for three fulls! That's fantastic! You'll be wearing your pink ribbon in no time and I can embarrass you by pointing it out to everyone. ;)

TerriOsburn said...

Hellie - I'll take any comparison to Rowling, even if I'd come up short in all of them. LOL! I can't collage and I can't outline because my brain thinks outline like we did back in school and I hated those. But I do take notes, which I think a lot of writers would call outlining. Have a couple pages I made once I got out of the car.

Marn - Can't wait to see what the research turns up. Nor can I wait to read about Jack. The big, burly, caring blond hunk. *sigh* LOL!

TerriOsburn said...

Steph - On these road trips I let my iPod shuffle, shifting from Jason Aldeen to Nickelback to Michael Buble and various other artists. Not ever song connects to the book, but many do. There's a song on Nickelback's new CD calling Trying Not To Love You that is so perfect for what my heroine is feeling. And at the end of the song, when she thinks the guy is gone, he sits down next to her and tells her he feels the same way.

That sound totally gave me my final scene. I even know where it happens and why. I didn't know that would happen as the music played, but I'm happy it did.

Embarrass me all you want. I just can't wait to see you!

Maureen said...

Greeting from Chicago! Now I find a lot ideas roll on to me while I'm driving. Aside from the sprawling in bed ideas. And walking the dog. Free writes will spark scenes. I even find my addiction to online jigsaw puzzles seems to turn the lot brainstorm on!

Probably sitting in class today will get things rolling. I hope!

MsHellion said...

The Weiland book I bought--the outlining feels more like "journaling" than the traditional outlining we're familiar with. It was very beneficial, I thought. Basically it's a story bible of every thought, like keeping all your post its of "great ideas" in one spot. *LOL* Which is good because I have a 100 notebooks with tidbits in every one, usually about the same freaking book!

TerriOsburn said...

Mo - We expect full updates throughout the conference. So you're actually attending workshops this year??

Hellie - I'm definitely journaling as I know I'd forget key details otherwise. Though I found pages of journaling for the last MS and that scene never got written. Well, not as I'd written in the notebook. Goes to show you can journal all you want but when the time comes, the story happens as it happens.

MsHellion said...

I know! But it's still good to write down a plan if only so you can deviate completely from it. *LOL*

I now have Hannibal's motto in my head-- "I love it when a plan comes together."

Maureen said...

I intend to get to some panels. Best made plans often run aground... But I'm attending class with the newbies!

I like taking notes!

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Terri - I love having the time just to think on my story. Most of the details come to me when the hubby and I are doing our weekend hikes or canoe trips.

I also do a lot of brainstorming when I'm on the treadmill running. Hard scenes I can't seem to get into are the ones I try to think on when running. Maybe it's the aggression that helps get that story out of me.

I also have a 1 hr each way commute to/from work - I'm constantly working on story ideas then. Daydreaming new ideas while stuck at red lights. :)

I need to use the voice memo function on my phone because none of these places give me a chance to write anything down!

P. Kirby said...

Three fulls, Terri? Oh, wow, that's a big, heaping spoonful of awesome! I bet any day you'll be getting good news. *Fingers crossed.*

Some of my best ideas come to me in the shower or while shoveling horse poop. Menial tasks are good for flights of fancy.

Funny thing is, I can't exactly remember how and when the heroine for my current WIP showed up. My hero's origins are very clear since he was loosely inspired by an existing character. (Nope, not fan fiction; I'm not pulling a Fifty Shades of Gray. I just liked the archetype and wanted to explore the idea more with my own character.) But I can't remember how his counterpart ended up being the owner of a small, independent bookstore. I think it's because, rather like MsHellion, I'm pulling inspiration from sooo many influences.

Music, however, is a biggee, with certain songs totally describing a character's backstory or a key scene.

TerriOsburn said...

Chance - You know note taking counts as plotting, right? *ducks*

Scape - I've been saying for years I'm going to get some kind of recorder but I never have. Didn't think about my phone. I have a smart phone. There should be something in there. Oh wait, I bet there's an app for that. LOL!

TerriOsburn said...

Pat - Menial tasks. Exactly. I've heard many say washing dishes is when they get their ideas. Once the story is going, I get most of my best inspiration as I'm trying to fall asleep. Sometimes the characters are so adamant, they just start acting out the scene then I HAVE to get up and start taking notes.

Ditto on the songs thing. Not so much for backstory, but there are songs that just "apply" ya know? The "tone" of the song is critical as well. It has to sound a certain way for me to "hear" it in the story.

Janga said...

I love all the reasons Terri is giving us to squee these days. I expect the signed-with-agent celebration soon.

Song lyrics have gotten me out of some blocks; so have poems. I used Lady Antebellum's "Just a Kiss" last week. And, if you will pardon a bit of self-promotion, my current blog post is about using poems as inspiration--with poems and scenes given. But I also get ideas from eavesdropping, news items, photographs. My current WIP began with two totally unrelated feature articles on my university's web page--one about a pet therapy farm and one about an engineer/inventor with a TV show.

No collages or outlines for me, but I do make notes about scenes. And I write character bios, extensive ones for major characters.

TerriOsburn said...

Your unwavering belief is what keeps me going, Janga. Thank you!

I love everything Lady Antebellum does. Their latest, Dancin' Away With My Heart, could be a book all on its own. *sigh*

Where do you keep your character bios? Are they printed or in your computer? A notebook? I find I often write stuff down and then forget to go look at it again. But when I do, more ideas come. This is why I have to keep my storyboard on my bedroom wall. I can't let it go "out of sight."

Now I need to go read your blog.

Sin said...

I'm a music person but I'm almost a note person. I like to write notes to myself about stories. Anything that comes to me gets jotted down in scribbles that are illegible and have to be translated into my word document.

And I never start at the beginning. I start where my characters are talking the most. Right now I've written the complete middle of my story. Now I'm trying to write the beginning so I know what I need to change in the middle before I write the end.

Janga said...

I use a loose-leaf notebook with sleeved plastic folders, Ter. It's a carryover from my teaching days when I used a similar notebook for my lesson plans. The sleeves allow me to add notes I may have jotted down on an index card (always with me), pictures I pull from magazines, poems or song lyrics, even fabric samples. That way everything I need is together. Since my first drafts are always written longhand, the notebook works for me.

TerriOsburn said...

Sin - They say start in the middle of the action so maybe you've got the beginning and just don't realize it. :)

Janga - Hellie has been writing longhand too. I just can't imagine doing that. I have terrible handwriting and arthritis in my fingers so my hand gets tired way too fast. Besides, I could never write as fast as the words come. When they're coming, of course.

I LOVE that blog. Anyone who hasn't checked it out, get over there now. THIS is why it makes me nuts this woman has released a book into the world.

Janga said...

Thanks, Terri. Maybe I'll join the self-publishing bandwagon. :)

I'm a one-finger typist, and so writing longhand is actually faster for me than typing. My brain also works better with pen and paper. I can revise on the computer screen, but I need the dinosaur method for the first draft.

TerriOsburn said...

I can see how that would work better for you then. And you could sell that manuscript if you'd just give it a chance. Let me have it and I'll put it out there FOR YOU. LOL!

Marnee Bailey said...

I can't write on paper anymore. Literally, my hand cramps. I get pain when I write checks (which I only do three times a month as it is. I know, I'm pathetic.)

So longhand is a no go. Besides, all the crossing out I'd do would make me batty. All those messy lines. ("IT'S NOT BEAUTIFUL, DAMN IT!!)

TerriOsburn said...

Good to know I'm not the only one with a wimpy hand. :)

And I'm with Marn on the aesthetics thing. I'm so OCD these days it bothers me if the rear window on the car in front of me is dirty and the damn driver won't turn on that little wiper to clean it.

I might need an intervention soon.

MsHellion said...

I totally get the aesthetics thing, really, but that's why I've not wanted to type lately. It's like I don't like commiting anything to a page because it must be pristine and perfect and final draft-esque. The long hand scoots stuff out on a page and then I type it like dictation, even if I hate what is going on and I'm like, "I'm cutting that FIRST, man." It's a pristine page thing.

TerriOsburn said...

I take it back. YOU'RE the one who needs an intervention.

MsHellion said...

*scowls* I was going to complain, but then I figured you were probably right.