Stuck with "pieces"

Hi everyone,

After another half-year of procrastination, I’m sharpening my pencil again.

So… I have a general concept, but what I have to date, rather than a bunch of writing, are a bunch of notes - about scenes, people, etc…

I have two main puzzles:

  1. Whether I should continue “filling in the pieces” with the notes


  1. The struggle I’m having with visualizing everything as a movie rather than a novel, and not knowing in which direction I should go.

Never written a book before so it feels like not knowing “the rules”, if there is such a thing, might be causing me to put off continuing.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Rules? There are no rules. You might want to consider learning novel structure. If you don’t know structure, it will take forever to write a novel. Now, some will tell you that structure is too “formulaic” for them and it would never work. Sadly, if one doesn’t know structure to begin with, how would one know whether it would work, or not?

Take a house, for example. Will it have a basement? Or no basement. All on one floor? Two floors perhaps. How many bedrooms? Bedrooms on the main floor, or two flights up to the third? Will the master be on the second? One must take what one wants, use it to build the house the way you want it, and live in house harmony.

See how “formulaic” that is? If you don’t know the design of the house you want to build, how will you construct it? By the same token, if you don’t know novel structure or how to make use of it and discard that which you don’t want or doesn’t apply, how ever will you write a novel?

I, and many others, recommend Save The Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. Also, Super Structure, by James Scott Bell. It is short and to the point.

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“I, and many others, recommend Save The Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. Also, Super Structure, by James Scott Bell. It is short and to the point.”

If I might take a moment to add…

I recommend Brody’s Save The Cat! Writes a Novel in the softcover print edition. I’m pretty certain you will be thumbing through it frantically, and it’s much better to have a hard copy in order to do that. Bookmarks? Post-it notes work for me.

Super Structure comes in digital. It’s short and to the point, and doesn’t need a hard copy.

Hmmm… interesting.

Thanks for the recommendation -

I actually just got the audio book (free) because of our Amazon subscription; I was about to get the Kindle version, too, so I could read at night as well, and bookmark it.

I do like the physicality of books, though.

Dang… decisions… :slight_smile:

This is where I found myself. I’d written an entire trilogy. Except I hadn’t.

Two years in, what I had was a stack of scenes. All important, all fairly polished. No real fat that needed removing. The line-by-line was already pretty good.

What I did not have was structure. I had the linear timeline, but not the story timeline, which it turns out needs to be a lot different to be most effective. I had tentative connections between the scenes, they proceeded causally and temporally, but connecting everything the best way through order and structure needed a lot of work. So, the next two years were concentrated mostly on that.

I’ve read all those books, but many of them conflict in their concepts, and many of them really aren’t helpful. Some are even dangerously idiotic. I think the key is to try to understand them all, then cherry-pick what works, and to not worry about what feels as if it does not work in that advice.

Now I have structure. How? By applying myself to it an average of 7 hrs a day for every single day since. I have my 10,000 hours in, just in this single project.

But the best advice I got was from Shawn Coyne, his certified editors, and his book ‘Story Grid’. He worked for a big 5 publisher for over 25 years in editing and acquisitions, and he knows what’s up, and his podcasts are amazing. I’ve listened to a dozen other experts, Michael Hauge, Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell, James Scott Bell, all of them. Even Blake Snyder, although that thinking where every screenplay must fit precisely into a particular mold is what has ruined Hollywood and made every movie just one more version of ‘Transformers’. Not what we had in mind.

They all can help, but Shawn Coyne’s crew helped me more than all the rest put together.

And the best tool? Without question, Scrivener. Without this platform, creating and manipulating structure and order is nearly an impossible task. Scrivener makes it all possible.

I know I am responding to a very old thread, but I feel like throwing in my two cents.

I wrote a book, ~70K words and published it. During this time, I was listening to The Story Grid podcast. When I started my second book (~23k words) I hired a Story Grid editor (weekly review and phone call) to help me along. I cannot emphasize enough how much help it was to work with a professional. It changed my entire outlook on writing and my struggles. My novella turned out pretty good if you ask me and I will be doing the same on each WIP I have from here on out.

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Would it be horribly rude if I asked the cost?

No it wouldn’t. I did the weekly one hour coaching session for about five months at $500/month. We’ll worth it. Different editors have different packages and prices along with genres they specialize in.

I’d write a chapter (1500 words or so) and get feedback on what I had written. The first month was spent nailing down a very rough outline along with theme(s), etc. making a road map.

That sounds like a pretty good thing. I’m glad it helped you out.

I don’t visualize a book in the making as a movie, but rather real life. I like to keep realism in my fiction, if that makes sense.

As far as my “pieces”. I try to look them over once a day, get a picture in my mind of what the intent of the piece is, which story it goes to (I have about 8 in progress with a short one finished) and see if I can expand on it. Even a paragraph helps move it along.

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It doesn’t matter if you see it as a movie or novel. What you are doing is telling a story. You should lay it out as you would tell it /how you see it.

You should have a structure, in my opinion so you know what happens when and why. It doesn’t have to be deep or detailed. I found that the structure will shift as you write and fill in the blanks. Sometimes you realize the pacing is off or there is a missing scene or two. Other times you may realize a scene is redundant because everything you wanted to convey was already conveyed in other scenes. This is all ok. It’s normal.

Scrivener give you may option for your notes… some can be scene place holders, others are “reference” in the terms of character sketches or location descriptors. Divvy up your notes and organize them in the way that makes the most sense to you. As you use the tool, you will find your best way of working. I’ve made numerous changes since I first started using scrivener… sometimes it was a PITA to make the changes but ultimately, I found my best way of working with this software.

All that matters is that it works for you. Makes sense to you.