Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick #014: Autumn Project Update Minisode 02 - Writing a Novel in Public




Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick show

Summary: Earlier in September, 2018, I introduced<a href="https://www.mattselznick.com/sonitotum-011/"> the Autumn Project (2018). You can read all about it</a>, 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.<br> 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.<br> This is the second update!<br> Listen to the episode for all the details… meanwhile, here are some significant statistics and other stuff:<br> The Autumn Project (2018): September 16 through September 26, 2018<br> 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!<br> <br> * Days Worked: Nine (Fifteen total)<br> * Total Time Worked: 16 hours, 42 minutes (31 hours 24 minutes)<br> * Words Written: 9620, not including the timeline, which was adapted from the prose background material (21,624 words total)<br> * Approximately 1069 words per day / 593 words per hour<br> <br> What Do I Mean by “Breaking” the Story?<br> 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.<br> 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.<br> 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.<br> In the episode, I talk about how my last novel, <a href="https://www.books2read.com/b/3J0ag4" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pilgrimage</a>, 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.<br> Lessons Learned<br> 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 <a href="http://www.skywarriorbooks.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Maggie Bonham</a> (and maybe others have) said: “Outlining is where brainstorming happens.”<br> 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..!<br> 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.<br> Tools and Resources<br> In the episode, I mentioned the software that’s gone into the pre-draft, planning / plotting stage.  Here they are, with links;<br> <br> * <a href="https://www.mattselznick.com/workflowy-free-outliner-writing-app/">Workflowy</a>. 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 writi...