Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ahh. . .Thanksgiving. . .

I can't believe it is that time of year again. I wish there could be a delay button on life because I'm just not ready. I'm hosting 14 people for dinner, and of course, I want to do it up right. But my house is a wreck, and I'm already behind on my menu and decor, if I want things to be "perfect." I confess I spent too much time shopping Friday night when I should have been home cleaning, and I got distracted Saturday on outside projects when I should have been inside.

I could easily get stressed (if I'm not already!!!) as the clock ticks down.

Lesson for authors here??? "Don't bite off more than you can chew" and "maintain proper balance." In whatever you are doing -- plotting, researching, scheduling, etc.

More often than not I see stories that are short on plot elements and don't have enough going on to keep the interest level high, but sometimes I see plot overkill. There are authors who have so many ideas about things their characters could do or leaps characters could take in development that the story reads like a string of unrelated events that never get fully matured.

Then there is research. We are so blessed with numerous research tools and easy access to them that we can spend all our time reading about a setting and little time actually writing about it. The temptation is to put every detail we gather into the story, and we end up with a sterile sounding story with lists of facts.

And need I talk about schedules that get overloaded? Writers are such accommodating people that we tend to say yes to more than we can humanly accomplish. When reality of over committed time and failed commitments hits us, it is a hard slap from which to bounce back.

Just like with cooking the big Thanksgiving feast, we can't spend so much time basting the bird that we forget to mash the potatoes or all our time scrubbing the stained bathroom sink that we fail to set the table. Writing requires us to spread our time and focus over multiple tasks and create a good, balanced blend of all the components.

I like lists that help me approach a huge project. So I have a list of all I need to do at home tonight and tomorrow to be ready for a 1:00 feast. Make a writing project list. For some it may look like a chapter-by-chapter outline. For others it may be a calendar with daily goals for adding scenes. Keep checking yourself that you are following the plan and meeting your goals so you can reap a bountiful feast.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you blessed writers!


Mary said...

creating a chapter by chapter synopsis for my Thanks giving. Not a bad idea.
We're going to my mom's. The usual crowd (I have eight brothers and sisters) is about forty or fifty. I always take too much and every year I vow to just bring one thing. I do have a gazillion sibs to bring too, and they do.
But I'm already planning sweet potatoes, a corn casserole, hashbrown casserole, two pies and homemade rolls.
That's just silly. How did I get into this?
I'm skipping the hashbrowns.
Mary Connealy

Pam Hillman said...

As a list person and a can't say no person (hush, Mary!), I can really relate to this!

Happy Thanksgiving all, and yeah, skip the hashbrowns, Mary.

Story Girl said...

I'm a list person too. Couldn't make it without mapping out my days!