Do you write a draft straight through from beginning to end, or do you prefer to stop at specific points to evaluate and cleanup your draft before going on?
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This week, analyze the pacing of your story. Consider printing out a blank calendar to keep track of your character’s actions or experiences. Select from a weekly or monthly format, depending on the time period your story encompasses. A good resource to try is print-a-calendar.com. Next, fill in the days on the calendar with details about what your characters experienced on those days. This task will hopefully give you a visual confirmation of whether your story’s pacing is realistic. It shouldn’t take four days for your character to drive to work, nor should it take four hours for two armies to prepare for battle. You can also use the calendar to pace incremental character change. By tracking the days on which your characters first meet and their subsequent interactions, you can determine whether the time frame for the changes they experience to their world views are reasonable given their personalities.
What is the most time consuming aspect of your revision process?
Time is unreliable when it comes to being a writer. Often, we lose ourselves in the process only to discover when we look up that the minutes (or hours, hopefully) have flown by. Other times, we’re mortified by how little we’ve accomplished when the timer dings and our dedicated writing time has ended.
The same can be true when you’re working on a project for the long-haul. This month, we challenge you to look back at what you’ve written since Write by Midnight ended in February. Make a list of your accomplishments. Perhaps you’ve written through to the climax of your story. Or maybe you’ve written at least something every single day. Celebrate your achievements and keep the momentum going.
If this task reveals you haven’t been as productive as you had hoped when you first began this journey, don’t fret. Realizing that it’s been three months (or longer) since you last sat down to write can be motivating on its own. Let your lack of progress inspire you to put in the work to reach your goals. Start with realistic expectations and build from there. Then, check back in with us next month to let us know whether you’ve kept up the pace.
Today, consider adding more authenticity to your setting by drawing on the emotional connections you have to places. Think about where you fell in love for the first time or experienced great loss and set your story there. It doesn’t need to be the same city or state necessarily, but you can probably use features from the room where you shared your hopes and dreams with your best friend or the atmosphere in the restaurant where you got dumped for the first time. Setting your story in places from your history can make them become real on the page.