I haven’t yet started using the index cards to jot down observations from in-depth research of what my characters do for a living. I’ve been deeply absorbed in The Plot Thickens, by Noah Lukeman, from which I’ve developed worksheets. I’m now applying those to my characters. It’s hard work. I like that the worksheets derived from Lukeman’s book are facilitating deep thinking about the characters. When I come to a trait or bit of background that I’ve checked as yes, the character has this, sometimes I have to think a long time about the circumstances that made that happen or the effects of that trait. And this is starting to bring scenes from the character’s life into focus. These bits are like puzzle pieces and these are starting to form a mosaic of the character’s life.
I guess these worksheets are part of my in-depth research for the book, so instead of index cards I have spreadsheets, at least for this part of the research.
I have started the scrapbook, which is for capturing interesting things from each day’s reading or just living, things that inspire me in some way as well as just spontaneous ideas I have on my own. This has been good.
I do so much of my reading online now, but I figured out the equivalent of cutting articles out of newspapers. When I read something online that is interesting, I print it out and paste it in my scrapbook. If it’s an image, I print that too. My new creativity journal, a Christmas gift from one of my critique partners, has blank pages on the right side, and lined paper on the left, which encourages me to write but also to draw and paste.
I’ve kept tons of journals, but I’m going to index and cross-index this one, as suggested in A Technique for Generating Ideas. I’ve been getting a lot of ideas beyond the scope of my work-in-progress from the in-depth application of The Plot Thickens. Just creating the worksheets has made ideas for short stories pop into my head. Also I’ve had ideas for how to tackle a rewrite of a big novel I wrote a while back that has been beyond me to figure out how to revise and sell. I’ve jotted these in my journal/scrapbook. I might even go back to old journals I kept when writing that book and index the notes there.
What I’m really doing here is embracing how I really am instead of criticizing myself for not being like how I think creative writers should be. This idea of being very disciplined and methodical about thinking appeals to me so much, and the approach is working because it suits my basic personality.
I’ve quadrupled my reading goals this year and am active in two groups in Goodreads. This is also feeding my writing. I recently figured out what makes a book amazing to me, and different ways a book falls short for me. My instincts told me that by really applying The Plot Thickens, I would gain access to making my books more like the books that amaze me.
Time for a pretty picture. Here’s something I toyed with tonight.
Have a great week!