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Pacing Your Story

Discussion in 'Author's Roundtable' started by Delusional, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. Delusional

    Delusional Connoisseur of Hallucinations

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    Alright, so I've been in the preparation stage of writing a fan fiction. No actual writing of the story has occurred yet, mainly just outlines and background development and the such. It is a lot more consuming than I originally thought.

    However, I have been wondering. Wondering about the pace of writing.

    What pace do you guys write at? And at what pace do you post those chapters onto the story thread here? I was thinking about writing a chapter a week maybe, but writing each chapter in advance. Example - I write Chapter 1. The next week, I post Chapter 1 and I begin writing Chapter 2. The next week, I post Chapter 2 and begin writing Chapter 3. I was thinking that if I, for whatever reason, fell behind schedule or missed a week, I would have a buffer chapter. Is this a good idea, or am I wasting my time and should I just start writing?

    And on a completely unrelated note, do you separate your chapters into separate documents? I assume so, since the entire book being in one Word document seems... ridiculous.
     
  2. Cordelia

    Cordelia Global Moderator
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    While I can't speak to the pace of posting chapters, I can speak to the pace of writing. I know you're throwing "week" up there just as an example, but I would definitely give yourself more time to spend on each chapter, since you have to get the idea spewed forth onto the screen and then edit it to a nice, presentable state. A week may seem like a lot of time, but then you sit down to work and suddenly seven days are gone like that, you're six chapters in, and you have no relief in sight. The severity of that feeling is dependent on how long you make each chapter, of course, since shorter chapters will require less time, but a hobby can start to feel like an obligation very quickly if you don't leave yourself time to breathe.

    Consistency is key for maintaining and growing an audience. A posting schedule with consistency, like the second Thursday of every month, or every other Tuesday, will give people a sense of regularity that will ensure they return on their own to check out the latest installment of your tale, but it requires you be faithful to that schedule. This is where the pocket full of chapters comes in handy. With a few pre-written and pre-edited chapters standing by before you ever post the first ensures you can uphold the schedule without panic or stress, and gives you the freedom to take a couple extra days off when you need them. Three strikes me as a good starter if you're eager to get to writing and posting. Personally, I'm both lazy and gung-ho, so I'd rather have the whole thing finished and edited to perfection before I start posting, just so there's NO chance I could ever fall behind, but that's just me and I know I'm terrible at keeping up with posting regularly if I don't have material already prepared.

    Just to give you an idea of what you're looking at once you start putting words to the screen, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a challenge for writers to complete a novel's first draft in thirty days. The minimum requirement is 50,000 words. That's about 1,667 words a day, or 2,500 if you take two days off a week. Some people struggle to write 1000 words in an entire day while others can breeze right on through it. Those who breeze often do so because they spend months in advance planning, so the writing is more like filling in the space between fixed plot points, rather than predominantly forming it as they go. So generally speaking, while every writer's process is different, having a clear map to follow will help you get there much faster, and with much less wandering.

    Many writers use programs such as yWriter and Scrivener to organize their chapters, plots, and characters. I can only tell you about yWriter from personal experience, but both have a lot of the same functions. yWriter is more stripped down while Scrivener has many more bells and whistles, but each allows you to enter a chapter in its own window, where it tracks word count, characters involved, scenes involved, locations, objects, themes, goals, tension, just about anything you'd want to track, and a million other things you might not even realize you wanted to track. It consolidates everything into one location (yWriter itself) so you can flit back and forth between all your pieces without having every word document and spread sheet open at once. The only real obstacle is its lack of spell-check, but you could always compose the chapter in a word processor and transfer the text to yWriter (as I do) when you're done for the day.

    Whatever you choose to do, remember not to let any method, format, or schedule you choose to use sap the fun out of writing your story. Especially if it's your first of this length. Writing a story or book, fan fiction or not, can be a lot like flipping a house. You look at it and think "This won't be so bad," and you research and plan and get your stuff together with the confidence that you've given yourself enough to handle anything this project can throw at you, and then you find out the foundation is cracked, there's water damage in the basement and first level walls, termite damage on the East side, and the whole thing needs to be re-plumbed and rewired. Suddenly this project you thought you'd prepared yourself for is consuming you, making demands you never thought to account for, and you're left with the choice of abandoning it, or seeing it through somehow. Don't box yourself into a corner in the rush of excitement that can come with wanting to share your work. Really think about a schedule that feels comfortable and natural to you, that your current RL schedule can support with wiggle room for any unforeseen bumps that might arise along the way.

    And keep HAVING FUN.
     
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  3. Delusional

    Delusional Connoisseur of Hallucinations

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    Wow, thank you for the advice! That is getting copy and pasted into a word document for future reference.

    Thank you so much!
     
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  4. Cordelia

    Cordelia Global Moderator
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    You're very welcome. I'm just glad you found my advice useful. :)
     
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  5. Chirurgeon

    Chirurgeon Active Member

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    I am planning on writing several books. I have written fan fic for other games and each work tends to be around 100 000 words. I separate each book into a different word document although you could combine them all. As far as pace I agree with Cordelia in that some authors are more prolific than others. In my current fanfic now that summer is here I will be writing more. I average one to two chapters a week. Each chapter tends to run around 2500 words. During school I was lucky to get one done a week. Now I am doing closer to three. Takes me about four hours to get a chapter done. This also includes editing screenshots which can be almost as tricky as writing. Hope this helps.
     
  6. shadowkitty

    shadowkitty Mistress of Shadows

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    I know this is a late post but I would like to say that putting your chapters into separate documents isn't completely necessary. My fanfic is going onto Eighty two (count em.. eighty two!) chapters long, each chapter around 3000 words, and I have it all in one document. I can go to any chapter with a click of a button. You just need to Title each chapter and hyperlink it to a table of contents at the beginning. easy :)
    Or use a writing program that separates each chapter for you but keeps it all in the one save file for you.

    Oh and don't forget to BACK UP YOUR WRITING! like do it in one or two different places.. on a portable hard drive, a USB, just back it up. Nothing is worse than losing all your hard work and not being able to get it back. (I don't know this feeling as I BACKUP everything ;) )

    Sorry if you are reading this and are thinking.well der I know all this.. just thought I'd throw in my two cents worth :) heh
     
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  7. imaginepageant

    imaginepageant Slytherin Alumni

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    First of all, it is important to note that there is no right or wrong answer, because different methods work for different writers. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

    When I'm participating in Nanowrimo, I usually don't have trouble forcing myself to sit down and write for as long as it takes to get the day's word count done. Having a goal helps keep me going, and gets it done a lot faster than it would've been otherwise. Granted, that usually means that some days I write utter crap that will need heavy revision later on, or may be cut entirely. It also sometimes means forsaking life. But it's only for thirty days, so I always know there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that in a couple of weeks I'll be able to get back to all the stuff I've put aside in order to write.

    But I can't do that for the other eleven months of the year. I have a full-time job. I have a husband and friends. I like to read, and watch movies, and play video games, and cook. I need time for these things, and that's time I can't devote to writing. So for those other eleven months, my pacing is simply to write when I want to. For a few months I was consumed by my fanfic and I was spending most of my free time writing, and I got a lot done. For the last few weeks, however, I just haven't wanted to write, so I haven't. If I try to force myself to write, it's a waste of my time, because I'm not truly enjoying what I'm doing, and I likely won't write anything worthwhile if my heart's not in it. For this reason, I don't tie myself in to any sort of writing schedule (outside of Nanowrimo).

    I've learned that it's all right to take breaks from writing. It's all right to not be consumed by your work 100% of the time. In fact, having some time off will do you good, as it gives you a bit of distance and perspective so you can look at your story with fresh eyes when you return. It gives your burnt-out brain a chance to recover and start coming up with those great ideas again.

    Regarding pacing in posting, I would love to be able to update my fanfic every week, or every other week, or on any kind of schedule. But because I can't guarantee when I'm going to have that next scene or chapter done, I can't. Because I won't tie myself in to a writing schedule, I can't tie myself in to a posting schedule. Might that cost me some readers who would prefer consistency? Perhaps. But, oh well. I believe my story will turn out better if I take my time on it, rather than rush through it just to get something up for people to read. So I don't worry about schedules or deadlines.

    I could not imagine keeping my entire manuscript in a single Word file. In fact, since I stopped doing that a few years ago, my writing has improved immensely in that I now keep it much more organized, focused, and outlined than I could before, when limited to a document that would inevitably become a total mess. I use and wholeheartedly support and recommend Scrivener for everything from research to outlining to the writing itself. I used a nested system, with a folder for each act, then a folder for each chapter, then a document for each scene. This helps me keep all of my plans, notes, and important details for every scene right where they need to be for quick and easy access.
     
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