Today I practiced restraint. How you may ask? Well by going to one of the most tempting places on earth…a Greek restaurant. I love Greek food. The pita, the tzatziki, the lamb and the large piles of rice and potato. I spent most of the dinner resisting the siren’s call of the delicious food and instead concentrated on the conversation. I would like to report success. I resisted eating everything in site, but still managed to enjoy my meal.
There are several places that challenge my ability to eat sensibly. Rogers’ Chocolates stores rank pretty high on that list, as does my mother-in-law’s house (she is an amazing cook who deeply believes in the power of butter), and of course Greek restaurants (and Indian and Italian…). When I know I am about to enter one of these danger zones I try to make an action plan to enjoy the event without expanding my waistline too badly. Planning is an important part of my life in eating sensibly but it is also important in other areas, like writing.
I try not to have a goal without a plan of action to achieve that goal. For example, my goal for February is to complete the second draft of my latest novel. My plan was to review a chapter each day that I do not have another evening activity. I must admit that I am not on schedule at the moment. Knowing this, I am revising my plan and breaking it down into smaller chunks. For example, tomorrow I will be creating a Beat Sheet for the novel, then I will use what I have learned to develop a better workflow plan for the rest of the month. I may not hit my original goal, but I hope that this new plan will kickstart my writing this month. Wish me luck!
Many writers choose to express themselves organically; writing without a defined outline or plan. While this can be a great way to let a story flow onto the page, it can also be a daunting task. This method of creation can also result in a first draft that is crying out for a little structure. A Beat Sheet is an outlining tool that can be used at any point in the writing process to add a little structure to a story. One of the background pieces necessary for a Beat Sheet and the novel itself is the “what if” statement that describes your novel. For example the “what if” sentence for Lord of the Rings could have been “What if a powerful magician created a self-aware ring with the power to enslave the world, and the only way to save the world was to take the ring to the heart of the magician’s stronghold and destroy it, before the magician can find you.” Ok so that was a little simplistic for one of the most complicated (and amazing) plots in move history but I hope you get the picture.
For this exercise, read the Beat Sheet Basics post from Storyfix.com and then try your hand at creating a “what if” statement that describes your story. Happy writing.