Writing method trial – the result

There's memes, there's gags, and there's real life. This one is all three.

With luck, this joke will no longer be true of my writing life…

Last month I ran a trial. I was going to take an old project, one that had been through many incarnations, and start over one more time. This time, however, I would be using a new method, gleaned from Rachel Aaron’s book, “2000 – 10000”.

On the wall is the plot overview, beneath it are the two scene breakdowns, then the individual sheets are for each scene.

On the wall is the plot overview, beneath it are the two scene breakdowns, then the individual sheets are for each scene.

The method itself isn’t very revolutionary – at least, not in the way I applied it. I would simply start by outlining the whole plot, then do a more detailed outline, and then break that detailed outline into scenes. Finally I would take each scene and write another detailed outline, and then I would write the script, a scene at a time, from the outlines.

Some of you are probably wondering what the hell I did before now, if this is my “revolutionary” system. Well, like I said in my original post, I wrote by the seat of my pants, hoping that the storyline would work out along the way and end up somewhere satisfactory.

Yes, really.

Being the lazy toerag I am, I took the first three weeks of February writing outlines. I left myself the last week to actually write the play itself. I reckoned it broke down into about eight scenes, four in each half, with a prologue setup. The first day of writing was very encouraging, with two scenes completed in an hour and a half, with a word count of two thousand words or more. This was actually working!

I only got to spend four days that week writing, and didn’t get my two scenes a day, though I was well on the way by the time Friday rolled around. I was confident that I would have this play done and dusted by the end of the first week of March.

Well, this is the Tuesday of that week. I wrote “Curtain” on the final scene of Act Two this morning, in a sort of daze. All in all, I’ve spent around eight to ten hours actually writing. Maybe two work days for real people*. I’ve produced, in that time, over 11000 words, and a complete full-length play, my first in more than a year. I’ve also done the preliminary planning for a one-act play that I intend to have finished by Friday. And I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

I’m not going to say this is the only system, or even the best system. What I’ve found in the past is that any system will have its champions and its detractors. What works for me may be living hell for someone else. But I know I have done more and better work in the last fortnight than I have in the two years preceding. My next aim is to have three short plays adding up to a decent one-act written and ready for publication by the end of this month – one a week. If I can achieve that, and I think I can, I will have proved this new system to my satisfaction.

What’s YOUR system? Doesn’t have to be a writing system – for a while we had the infamous “Tidy Friday” plan, where everyone in the household cleaned the whole place between four and six on a Friday night, so we had a clean home for the weekend. Tell me the secrets you’ve discovered that lead to an organised life! Best suggestion wins a personalised Certificate of Organisationalism!



*i.e. not writers. Writers aren’t real people.

6 responses to “Writing method trial – the result

  1. Rachel Aaron is my hero, or heroine, or whatever, she’s it. I read her post on 2,000 to 10,000 and then when she wrote the eBook I bought it. Because she deserved it.

    When I started writing about what I would write about it loosened something inside me. And it was different than an outline or brainstorming, it’s weird. I love it.

    On to organizing (sorry, U.S. spelling) my mother used to set a timer for 15 minutes and say, “Let’s see what we can get done before the timer goes off!” We thought it was great fun. She’s pretty tricky. Now, I do the same thing to myself. Also, if I see something and I really want to put it off, I make myself do it. I think it makes me stronger…or a ninja. Either way, I’m happy.

    • That’s cool. When Mrs Dim and I tried the timer method with our weasels to increase homework efficiency, they thought we were trying to kill them with the evil bell-ringing device. They would howl uncontrollably until the timer was taken away and it would take another 20 minutes before they were calm enough to fail to do their homework the regular way.

  2. p.s. what you’ve done since deciding to do something different is so ridiculously awesome. I love how you described yourself as “…in sort of a daze”

  3. Thanks for your great comments!

  4. Oh, my mom never tried that with homework… No, just cleaning! We went to Catholic school, the nuns were motivation enough for homework!

  5. Pingback: Celebrating failure | Damian Trasler's Secret Blog - Do Not Read!

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