lookingforoctober: (Default)
LookingForOctober ([personal profile] lookingforoctober) wrote2016-04-01 05:19 pm
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Process: Stuff that isn't plot

I'm still planning on writing about my more general process step by step, but I've been...I don't know if busy is quite the right word, but I've been distracted at least, and somehow have managed to get behind on almost everything. (I'm not sure how that works, you'd think that there would be something that has been keeping me busy/distracted and which I'm therefore not behind on, but...)

Anyway. Today I was thinking about writing, and it occurred to me that while I feel like I have a fairly good process in terms of plot, and in terms of being able to organize my plot according to a structure that I'm happy with, I have basically no process/structure to guide me when it comes to things like worldbuilding and characterization -- and yes, this is partly by design, because I have confidence in my ability to do them, and I was more worried about plot...

But looking at my current project, I'm pretty very disorganized about worldbuilding especially. I think of something and try to stick it into my notes somewhere, and then... what? It sits there, and I can't find it when I need it. And yeah, I can always come up with more, but it would be more efficient not to, wouldn't it? And to be able to find the stuff that I know I already came up with?

So in the hopes of coming up with a better filing system for non-plot story notes, I'm going to list out the current ad hoc structure and what it's good for.

Under "Ideas!", I have folders for books 2 and 3 (into which I drop thoughts with absolutely no attempt at organization because I'm not writing books 2 and 3 right now), subplots, mode, theme, inspiration, characters, setting, timeline, structure, round holes, square pegs, and todo.

Of these, todo is meant for things that I mean to do in the very near future, and is hardly worth comment, structure has one file with one sentence in it, so I guess it didn't need a whole folder, timeline is really out of date and mostly contains stuff that probably ought to be moved to square pegs (which I will just go do right now...) and mode is something that I haven't developed a lot yet but is a really good idea for later development.

So that leaves subplots, theme, inspiration, characters, setting, and round holes and square pegs.

You would think than subplot would be plot-related, but it's quite possible that it's misnamed... It's more raw material for subplots than actual plotty material itself. Not incidents or events so much as forces that are going to cause incidents and events. The most useful thing in the subplot folder is exploration of the goals of various actors in the system that is the world I'm creating. And goals grow into actions...

Related to subplots (actually, generated from the subplots folder, along with a few other sources), square pegs are things that I want to put into the plot but don't know where yet, and round holes are places in the outline that are vague and need details. I've merged the round holes and square pegs, but I'm not totally happy with the results of that, I'm also working on a world-level outline which should clarify some of the high level world-changing stuff that the plot needs to hang on (but this world-level outline is a big sheet of paper with lots of post-its, so it doesn't have a folder anywhere).

So this stuff, the goal is to eventually merge it into the outline, so I guess that's okay. It's not really structured properly now, but it should be eventually.

(There is a question though -- when I'm finished integrating this into the outline, what do I do with the raw material? Does it get sorted off somewhere as irrelevant and used up, or do I need to re-file it somewhere so that I can continue to use it?

The subplot material has a lot of good character stuff, for example, lots of information about various organizations, etc. etc. I think it needs to stick around for reference. The other stuff can probably be deleted once I get it into the real outline.)

Which leaves theme, inspiration, characters, and setting.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with the theme stuff.

Inspiration is notes from stuff I've come across in various research or just my normal reading that I think will be useful for generating ideas. It's really a pre-idea stage.

Characters and setting are ideas that are actually not plot-related. Funny how I thought the whole ideas folder was not plot-related, but most of it was.

I guess the truth is that plot can be made out of anything, but... there's also the fact that things can be present without being plot (I am defining plot here as being characterized by action or change). So some of the characterization might end up turned into plot, but not all of it. Some of it will be description or come out in conversations or moments, not in big actions that change everything. Some of the settings will exist without changing. Etc.

So I guess in my mind, the big distinction in the ideas folder is how close the idea is to being incorporated into the story. I have inspiration, which is pretty far from being ready to go into the story (I'd think of it more as "questions to ponder"), I have what I'm going to call "being", characters and setting, more static than dynamic, more summary than specific, and is not really supposed to go into the story until later, when I'm actually writing scenes and doing details, not just big picture plot stuff. When I can make "Char X is like such and such" into something that informs a moment in time.

And then I have "doing", actual events or things that are meant to become events, stuff that's pre-plot, stuff that's going to (hopefully) get incorporated into the outline.

Well, that was interesting. Now I guess I can go reorganize my ideas folder according to this structure, and see if that makes me feel more organized.