Writing 500 words without doing a thing

by kalbzayn on October 17, 2007

My new story has about 800 words in it right now. I wrote about 500 of those last night without actually doing any writing.

I opened my word processing program and was greeted with the previous 300 words which are a quick sketch of the final scene showing where I want everybody to be when the story ends. By ends I mean after the part after the climax. The part right before THE END. The part where anybody that is going to die is dead and anybody that is going to survive is alive.

I was waiting to get the kids off the bus so didn’t feel like doing any focused writing. I looked at the notes in my notebook. I have a one sentence description of about half or so of the scenes. Most of the beginning and some of the end.

I decided to add each of those into my story. Instead of just typing one sentence place holders, I typed four sentences with each sentence a different bullet point for each of those scenes. I’m shooting for each scene to be between 500 and 1500 words. I figure that if I can’t write 4 sentences about a scene, I need to throw it out or at least pretty seriously reevaluate the point of the scene right off the bat.

Once I added the 4 sentences for most of those scenes, I had another 500 words.

Here is an example of what it looks like:

  • Approaches fancy pirate ship in rowboat w/ agitated monkey (point out that they have not been together long)
  • Tries to board but denied by undead crew of fancy pirate ship.
  • Monkey leads pirate to his tiny, junky ship (show monkey and pirate starting to learn to understand each other)
  • Explore junky ship.

Each of those sentences will serve as little guideposts to aim the story at. Having them already in the file will hopefully help me stay focused and pull me through the rough draft. The plan is for each sentence to get expanded into a full page or so.

The only problem that I have right now is that I know the first 1/3 or so and the last just 1/4ish but have no idea what I want to do in the middle yet. The good news is that I already found two scenes that were really not going to do anything to advance the plot or the characters. Bye bye.

The good part is that I can add these little mini-scenes for other scenes as they occur to me and I’ll be able to see immediately what kind of effect that will have on the scenes around it.

I’m also realizing how binding the actual physical environment of this story is. The entire thing is going to take place in a fairly large city built entirely into the side of a cliff. Just tons and tons of interconnected dug out caves. Some as small as a room. Some as big enough to hold a small street worth of buildings. But everything is bound into a basic two-dimensional world built of chaotic layers on top of layers with virtually all of the movement between layers restricted to rope bridges on the cliff face. All of which makes movement and hiding pretty tricky. Plus, I was planning on there being one really big explosion about midway through the story (there is a valid plot reason for it) but I need to figure out how to have a big explosion without blowing up the cliff. Maybe magic, but if I introduce magic that might muck up a bunch of the other plot.

Now I can start cherry picking some of the scenes to write and see where this thing takes me.

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Taking the story over the top - Kalbzayn’s World
October 18, 2007 at 3:00 am

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Bonnie October 17, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Nice Mike! I’m going to borrow your scene-building method. Currently the one I’m using is to write it in full and then forget important points that I need to add in later. ;) I too have an absent middle, which sounds nice in some ways but not too workable in others.

:::sends “come out baby” wishes:::

kalbzayn October 18, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Feel free to borrow…or even steal the scene-building method. I wish I could remember who I stole…I mean borrowed it from.

For the record. Still no baby.

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