Friday, December 19, 2008

Staying In Touch

This time of year is usually when we send Christmas cards or e-cards, make lots of phone calls, and catch up with our friends and family. But that's not the type of "staying in touch" I mean. Rather, I'm talking about staying in touch with your manuscript during this busy season.

I'll be honest. My work on the novel hasn't been going much of anywhere during the weekdays - the weekend is when I get most of my fiction writing done. Reason? I have freelance work with deadlines that need to be met and well, since I get paid for those projects, they come first. I do about one of them a night during the week. This leaves little time for the novel. Now I could forego the time spent with my daughter during the evening and work on the novel, but I absolutely refuse to do that.

So if I don't get a chance to write on my novel during the week (and hopefully, I can start squeezing it in), I need to "stay in touch" with the story line so that I can pick up where I left off.

I'm doing this a few ways:

1) Writing in my "book journal." This is different from my ordinary journal since it focuses solely on my novel. This journal contains notes, research items, plot points, ideas, character motivations, etc. I love using it because all of my important stuff is in one spot. When I haven't had the opportunity to work on the novel, I write something in the journal that keeps my head in the story.

2) Reading through the manuscript. It's amazing what you forget. For example, one of my main characters was wounded in World War II. And in the last few chapters I wrote, I completely forgot about his injury. Whoops.

I decided to start "staying in touch" because when I came back from my trip to England, I hadn't looked at my novel in weeks. And then I moved. That only postponed the writing. So when I finally had the chance to dive back into it, it took me a very long time to get my head wrapped around the story again.

I don't want to deal with that again. It is much too painful - and it's not a very productive use of my time, either.

Do you have ways that you keep in touch with your story?


  1. Interesting idea, Mel.

    I generally keep my WIP open on my desktop and I'll go back and read it for a few minutes when I get a chance so the story is there and continuing to germinate.

  2. What a great point! Thanks for putting these thoughts out for us to consider.

  3. I like the idea of a book journal. Might just have to steal that idea...

  4. I have a book journal too! Mine is one of those black and white composition notebooks we used in school remember? I think it is a fabulous way to stay in touch!

    Good luck! I am heavy into rewrites now so my head is swimming in my novel.

  5. Thanks for those tips! I just try to at least THINK about my characters during the day, even if I don't have a chance to write anything. But your point about the journal is a good idea. Must try that.

  6. I haven't been keeping in touch with mine very much recently, and think I'll take up your idea of a journal.

  7. I keep a journal, too. Well, when I say journal ... as I'm totally disorganised, it's just a big notebook full of scribblings that I type up now and again.

    Like Rene, I try to at least read odd bits of it for a few minutes each day. Even if it's only for 5 minutes, I find it helps keep my mind on the characters.

  8. Wow! I loved this post! I have a large different colored notebook for each of my novels in the series i'm working on. Whenever I find myself stuck on a character's name or coloring, I just walk over to my shelf and pull out the notebook from the last book they were mentioned in. Each book has a catalog of every character in it. Full name, Height, eyes, hair, likes, dislikes.. etc. It comes in handy.

    A notebook--with the novels title on it--also comes with me wherever i go as I'm writing the latest book. So when a new idea comes to me, I open it up and start writing.

    It worked really well, when I went to Switzerland this summer, I was able to find a guy on the plane that was exactly how I wanted my hero to be. LOL! I watched, listened and wrote the whole flight and even later, when I found him outside our rental car shop talking on his cell. You won't believe what awesome mannerisms I was able to create just from watching him and having my notebook with me. Yeah, it's big, and doesn't fit in my purse, but it is a constant reminder that i'm writing, so I find I use it! LOL!

  9. I like the thought of an active journal coinciding with the writing. It seems easier to get at than the computer when life is busy! I often will just reread, keeping the story fresh while the writing simmers on a backburner.

  10. Funny you should post on this today. My ms just got returned from editing (a friend and I swapped off) this morning, so my WIP and I will be in close contact. Bring on the new sorta-NANO month!

  11. Rene - Good idea to keep the doc open on the computer. Must try that.

    Janna - You're welcome!

    Kacey - I really love the book journal. And that way I get to go and buy a new journal for each new novel. :-)

    Ell - Ooh, rewriting! I actually think you can get even deeper into your story during the editing process. Have fun!

    Tess - I highly recommend the book journal idea. I've found it to help quite a bit.

    Debs - Hope it helps!

    Shirley - I think that's the key, to just even read a little bit of the story to keep up with the characters.

    Giddy - Sounds like you're quite organized! And people watching is great fun, isn't it?

    Joanne - That is a major reason why I love the journal. I sit in front of a computer all day at work and I really get tired of it. I'd much rather use pen and paper for my journal than get on the computer. It's a welcome relief.

    Angie - Woo hoo! I am really looking forward to our "Just Write Challenge." I think it will be great fun (and very motivating) for all of us!

  12. I love the book journal idea. I lost touch with my other book and totally dropped it. I don't want to with this one.

  13. What a fabulous idea! A Story it. The novel I just completed major revisions on took me several years to write between kids and one child's major health issues. Every time I went to write, I had to catch myself up on were I had left off.

    I started leaving bullet points and my train of thought at the bottom of the manuscript so that I would some idea of where I was headed when I returned. This worked pretty well. :)

    I also have a little over 50k of a cozy mystery that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2007, which I have not looked at since then. That is going to be my next project. The story needs to be finished and of course major revision/editing work will be required. But I am going to have to read through the entire thing (manuscript, notes, drawings, etc.), before I can even begin.

  14. Terri - Hope you have success with this method. It's certainly helped me.

    BloggingExperiments - Thanks for stopping by! I know what you mean about losing track of the story. Too many times I've done that because life gets in the way.

  15. Loved this post so much I had to use it as the inspiration for my Blog Chain entry...check it out!


I love to hear from you!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!