Saturday, May 31, 2008

Writing a serial

This is really more of a writing process in general post. At various times when I've been faced with writing something quite different from what I'm used to, I've forced myself to approach the writing itself in a different way. So when I started learning journalistic writing in college I was used to writing everything out longhand and then typing it up (or sometimes typing it up plus the next few paragraphs). To jar my mind into the very different writing mode of journalism classes, I forced myself to write articles entirely at the computer. For a while I maintained that distinction--computer for articles, pen and paper for essays and fiction (and pencil and paper for poems).

I still rarely compose a poem at the computer, but I've moved into most other writing at the computer with occasional exceptions. Sometimes I'll still force myself to use a different font to approximate the same effect.

With the new baby, though, I knew there'd be times when I would want to be able to write things out long-hand (for one thing, it can be done with only one hand free--typing with only one hand is ridiculously slow). At first I was trying to remember to carry a notebook around with me, but that got a bit tedious as well. Then I saw Jeff VanderMeer mention on his blog that he often uses notecards for jotting down ideas and scenes and background, etc. So I grabbed a stack of notecards that my wife had left from medical school and I've been carrying them around.

Mostly I've been putting background info on them--characters, episode ideas, info about the city setting. I wrote one completely unrelated poem on one, so it's been useful for things beyond this particular project, and this morning I was out and came up with a random idea that I might weave into the project (more about that later, perhaps).

Now I'm at the stage of writing out the first episode. I've gone back to my usual fiction mode of late, doing it at the computer...but I am wondering if that's a mistake. Maybe I should stick with long-hand (either on the cards or back in the notebook). I'll have to see after doing a bit more on the episode if that would make more sense. I do have the episode planned out on cards in much more detail than I usually do for short stories. It's going slow, but part of that is simply that I'm still playing around with what kind of voice I want for the project.

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