Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scene by Scene Milestones Charted the Gin Rummy Way

I had a different post planned for today on "wish lists" that was more in line with the season. I'd picked out the appropriate Santa Claus image and everything to decorate, but it seemed too, well...wishful. I guess I played out my enthusiasm for "wishful." Ah, well, the colors are Christmasy!

But while in the general "wishful" mood over the past few days, I thought a lot about productivity for my goal of organizing my WIP through to completion, and, when that plan didn't come together - - played online Gin Rummy.

Yep, typical avoidance. I am on "vacation" but still, I would like something to show for my stories. However, when it comes to constructing a "plan," I don't really know where to start. One way or another, productivity advice boils down to: 1) Write it Down, and 2) Do it.

Now how enthused can someone be about that? It's just...boring.
Then I had an idea. Since I seem to want to play games rather than actually organize a plan for working on my novel, maybe I should make it a game. After all, just like for characters, there's nothing like being a little eccentric to maintain interest.

Plus, something else occurred to me. The sorting tasks of Gin Rummy are basic organization skills! Yes, the very thing I try so hard to avoid. Next thing I knew (all right, several hours later), I had my novel broken down with my "Scene by Scene Milestones Charted the Gin Rummy Way." Now, is that a snappy title or what?

If you'd like to try it, below is an image of my file that I think you can enlarge by double-clicking on it and also some "instructions." It might not work as a plan for everyone, but I found it fit my goal and my stage of the novel, which is with nearly all of the plot points fleshed out but in various stages of "polish." So I see this more for revision of a nearly complete, that is plotted, manuscript.

Benefits:
  • I got a much clearer picture of my WIP as a whole and found I couldn't resist adding to the scenes as I identified them. Yes, one of the purposes is to break out and identify EACH scene. The scenes are the milestones.

  • The Rating System -- the Gin Rummy Way -- shows me where I'm at in passing the milestone.

  • Naming the scenes gives me a unified theme for the conflict and goal of each section and helps with judging the pace.

  • It can be, but doesn't have to be, a linear process. I can sort and reshuffle my "cards."
First, the quick basics of Gin Rummy as a refresher which will hopefully help understand the system.
Gin Rummy Rules (simplified): By drawing and discarding, you sort your cards in groups (like three Aces or a run of the same suit: A, 2, 3 [Ace counting as #1]) and try to be the one left holding the lowest points, or none at all. You can either "knock" with low points to catch your opponent or call "Gin!" if none. (Note: I think the cards in the image above is a bridge hand and not Gin Rummy, but the idea is there.)
The System


I. Sort your "cards" which are your scenes. Make a table (Excel works nice or with Word) with the headings: "Chapter #," Scene #," "Scene Name," "Stage 1 Milestone (A, 2, 3)" and "Stage 2 Milestone (G)" Optional headings, which I added, could be "Characters Involved" and "Location" or other category you'd like to track.

II. Enter the data for each scene under the header and rate its completion status.

Rating System for the "Milestone" headings. Objective: Get all the Stage 1 Milestones to "A" before moving on to Stage 2. In Stage 2, get all the Milestones to "G."

A (Ace or #1) = "You're ready to "knock." This could be enough to win, but it needs another look before calling Gin! in Stage 2.

2 = It's solid with the plot, but needs to be revisited to smooth out rough edges.

3 = The scene fits with the plot, but the writing is sketchy at best with holes to fill. (I have lots of 3's! That's okay...time to whittle them down in points.)

G = Gin! This is only for Stage 2, the polishing stage and checking the details and continuity. Once you go Gin! for all scenes, the novel is officially finished! (Time for query letters and a synopsis.)

One thing notably absent is dates. Personally, I left this out, but it could be added. I may add it for Stage 2. I think the main thing is getting to know where I'm at and what I need to work on next. I think it's good to have direction, but there are many different interpretations of the advice: 1) write it down, 2) do it!

Have you customized your plan? What would you add to this one? Any other ways to turn your plan into a game?

2 comments:

  1. Aren't you clever? Using an avoidance technique to create a writing technique!

    I like this, and may use it on my NaNo book. I was reading it last night, the first time since I finished NaNo three weeks ago, and I wrote it as a series of scenes, rather than a more linear type story. This will help me organize it during revisions, since I need to figure out exactly where some things need to go. :) Plus, it will be fun to do it this way!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Donna, I'm glad you liked it! :) I'm thinking the chapter heading could go -- it confuses things if, or more likely when, a chapter splits. Yes, I already found that out with my very first chapter! I revised and updated the excerpt. Maybe you'd take a look to see the change? :) I also got brave and submitted it to the Flogging the Quill first page challenge.

    I hope this works for your NaNo book! I hope it will be more fun this way! I'll be curious to know if it helps. It's not that unusual, but different enough to get started! LOL

    ReplyDelete

My Blog List