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Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick 014: The Autumn Project Weekly Update Minisode 02

Earlier in September, 2018, I introduced the Autumn Project (2018). You can read all about it, but in brief: between September and the end of December, 2018, I’m planning, plotting, and completing the first draft of my next novel, Light of the Outsider, in public.

It’s an exercise in accountability, transparency, beginner’s mind, and teaching what I learn. In that spirit, I’ve promised to share my progress on a regular basis through “minisodes” of Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick.

This is the second update!

Listen to the episode for all the details… meanwhile, here are some significant statistics and other stuff:

The Autumn Project (2018): September 16 through September 26, 2018

This ten-day period was all about wrapping up the character background notes, then “breaking” the novel, and then finally preparing all that material for the day when I begin writing actual manuscript pages of the first draft… which began on September 27, 2018… so that stuff, we’ll talk about in the next update!

  • Days Worked: Nine (Fifteen total)
  • Total Time Worked: 16 hours, 42 minutes (31 hours 24 minutes)
  • Words Written: 9620, not including the timeline, which was adapted from the prose background material (21,624 words total)
  • Approximately 1069 words per day / 593 words per hour

What Do I Mean by “Breaking” the Story?

This is a term borrowed from screenwriting and from television series writer rooms. It’s not the same as when a journalist “breaks a story” — that’s when a reporter is the first to report on something.

In this context, to break a story means to break the sequence of events down to individual “beats,” or scenes, and put them in order according to their place in the arc of the larger tale and each character’s arc.

Typically, there are three acts (or four, if you count the first and second half of the second act as two acts) in a longer work, with several scenes per act.

In the episode, I talk about how my last novel, Pilgrimage, stayed very close to the traditional three act structure, and how Light of the Outsider, while still broken into three acts, doesn’t necessarily follow all the usual rules.

Lessons Learned

The value of writing all those words in character background (see the last update) really proved valuable again and again during the plotting / breaking phase as new connections popped up in my mind. I was reminded of something the author Maggie Bonham (and maybe others have) said: “Outlining is where brainstorming happens.”

That’s because brainstorming is almost always more fruitful if it’s done within some kind of structure… like, for instance, three well-defined acts..!

Also, I had an important epiphany involving a key (as in, what you use to open a lock) that eliminated one of the more hand-waving story points early in the first act.  This was an intuitive thing that, nonetheless, has evaded me for a very, very long time when it comes to this novel.

Tools and Resources

In the episode, I mentioned the software that’s gone into the pre-draft, planning / plotting stage.  Here they are, with links;

  • Workflowy. I use this list maker / outliner so much, it’s probably my primary tool in my life, not just in writing, and not just in writing Light of the Outsider.  I used Workflowy while writing the character background bits. Here’s a blog post I wrote all about how you can use Workflowy in your writing projects.
  • OpenOffice Calc, the free spreadsheet component of the free office suite. I used it briefly while working out the timeline of the characters’ lives right up to the moment the novel begins.  I reckon I’ll be returning to it to keep timelines and continuity straight as I write the first draft, too.
  • Gingko App. Similar to Workflowy, but designed more specifically for writing long form documents. I broke the story in Gingko. It’s neat.
  • yWriter. In many ways, especially how it doesn’t try to be all things to all people like Scrivener does, I prefer yWriter for organizing, keeping track of, and actually writing my novels and short stories. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s free. Read my full review of yWriter.

Watch as I Write Light of the Outsider!

Remember, you can support the Autumn Project (2018), the Sonitotum podcast, and watch the live video feed of every writing session for Light of the Outsider when you become my patron for just $3.00 per month. Every session lets you see exactly what I’m seeing on my computer monitor while I work, so you can literally see every spoiler-filled detail and behind the scenes moment as I write this book.

Pledge just $5.00 per month and you’ll get all the benefits of the $3.00 pledge plus the ability to watch the writing session videos any time you want via the archive library, plus more patron-only benefits!

Making the Episode

Every episode of Sonitotum takes considerable time to record, edit, and produce, including writing these show notes and creating the graphics and social media assets.

Equipment and Software

For those who are interested (folks sometimes ask), here’s what I used (and use) to make this episode. I have affiliate arrangements with some of these products and services. If you make a purchase when you click through using my links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. It’s a great way to help support the podcast… so thank you!

Stay Tuned For More Weekly Minisodes, Plus Regular Full-Length Episodes!

I’ll continue to stay accountable throughout the rest of 2018 with these quick weekly minisodes updating my progress on Light of the Outsider.

Stay tuned for more full-length episodes of Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick, too, including upcoming shows on the the necessity of responsible self-promotion, and more! I’ve got thoughts I want to think at you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Sonitotum wherever and however you get your podcasts, and if you have a moment, please rate and review the show in your podcast app, too! Thanks!

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