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Old 12-05-2011, 11:02 PM   #7
Patrick Sweeney
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Northern California
Posts: 954
Default Re: Your Modus Operandi

Once I settle on an idea, I write a longhand list of brainstorming ideas - scenes, characters, setpieces, whatever. Everything I'd like to see if I went to see this movie.

Then I work on structure, normally starting with the opening, midpoint, and ending. Often the All is Lost beat as well, not traditionally one of the big ones but a key one for me. Once those are locked in, I break my ideas down into acts, and then into sequences within those acts. I'm also working on the characters at this point, coming up with names, skills, personalities, and so forth.

I normally start a "flotsam" file of partial scenes, bits of dialogue, etc., that start coming to me while outlining.

I keep trying to force myself to outline down to the scene level in the hopes that it will make writing the first draft easier, but I never seem to make it -- I always end up digging into the writing once I get a sequence outline I'm happy with.

I normally write sequentially. On my next first draft, I'd like to try something John August does - he writes the first 40 pages out of sequence but focusing on the beginning, middle, and end. I especially like the idea of writing the ending early, because by the time I reach that point in my first draft I'm normally so worn out and sick of the project it gets short shrift because I just want the damn thing to be over. So then I have to go and pretty much totally rewrite it in the next draft. I'll have to see if I can break out of my sequential habit, though.

And then it's on to rewrites, normally 1-2 fairly sizable ones, followed by any number of touch-ups & polish passes.
Patrick Sweeney
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