Writing Checklist

This is the writing checklist. Here, I will keep track of two things. Firstly, the writing techniques or problems which I need to work on and improve before I can write novels, and my progress on them. Secondly, I’ll keep track of the things I’ve succeeded at which I’m happy with. If you have suggestions for additions to the checklist, please let me know.

ARTISTIC CHECKLIST:

  • Feel confident with natural dialogue.

TECHNICAL CHECKLIST:

  • Structure
    • Investigate/experiment with a purely external darkest moment – that is, the character has fully changed, and now the Old World has come to return them to the Lie, in which they would doubtless lose all that they have become. Traditional darkest moments are internal – that is, the character has NOT committed fully to the Truth and must now make the final choice to leave the Lie and old world behind forever. 
    • Thoroughly test the various character arcs by writing them. Get a complete understanding of them and the 3 act structure through use. 
    • Investigate how the 3-act structure/character arcs apply to different genres, such as mysteries. 
      • A character adapts to a situation instead of changing who they are at the core. They change outward methods instead of inner motivations. 
      • Trying to say something through a complete lack of change – they don’t change, and are subsequently destroyed by the new climate. 
      • Someone who knows who he is and stays true to that – is the journey in the reader then? 
      • The character stays the same, but an inner need, defined by unchanging character, is met or failed. 
      • A comedic character who has an obsession, and fails to realize it. Again, seems to be based on pure exploration of character. Again though, I don’t see any point to the story beyond pure action and entertainment, unless you make the point directly about not realizing who he is. This point then gets repeated over and over again – so the action/entertainment must be a heavy disguise for variation’s sake, otherwise the whole thing gets stale and bland fast. Which most non-arcing series seem to do, come to think of it… 
  • Theme
    • Be able to show any character realization, decision, reaction, or thought, with no dialogue, and/or with no action (benchmarks: watching sunset silently, single powerful action, single clear line).
    • Be able to create passive themes. Preferably quickly.
      • Process theoretically works, but has so far failed to yield a working setting. This might be due to a faulty theme, and not the process. Work on this, even if its for just a few short stories. Make sure it actually works. 
  • Development
    • Be able to create the beginnings of a story within one week (story may be scrapped, but must be workable).
      • From development: seem to have a solid grasp on this, currently able to run up the basics in under an hour. More testing required to be sure.
        • From 3-act structure: Also able to run up the basics quickly. Basic outline can be created in about an hour.
      • From Character Arc Testing: Different approach, also yields more detailed base outline in about one hour. Can we combine these?
        • Further testing: More detailed basics created in one day.
      • Success.
    • Know beyond a doubt what the beginnings of a story are (where the idea comes from).
      • Currently working with What If statements, but not too sure about those…
        • Abandoned.
      • Trying to locate initial seed of inspiration. Current research indicates passion is needed. Currently considering an inspired scene…
        • From analysis: Interest seems to be generated off of character relations rather consistently.
        • Initial inspiration seems to be generated off of a single internal image tied to a deep character motivation. This image can then spawn a complete or incomplete backstory, which becomes the plot. Suggests that inspiration begins with deep character motivation.
      • Be able to generate a plot off of a character arc (even if not used, I should be capable of this).
        • From Character Arc Testing: Mission Accomplished in first test. Now in under one day with additional development.
        • Success.
      • Be able to generate a character arc easily.
        • Currently creating arcs based off of epiphany and working backwards to a character incapable of that epiphany until they change. From development: working. No problems so far.
        • Old method. New Truth/Lie springboard yields faster creation.
        • Success.
      • Be able to create a plot with built-in twists, rather than building them in later.
        • This creates problems with finding the goal. Instead, do the below:
      • Investigate twists. Specifically how much they are needed (what they contribute – do they maybe stretch an otherwise short character arc into a long thing?), and if they are needed, how best to fit them into the 3 act structure (have main plot, divert, then twist back).
      • Work on getting better and faster at finding ways to change the character during development.
      • Be able to create a title within three days (can be scrapped, but must be workable).
        • Usually easily doable, but sometimes there is a title which I cannot fit. Rare.
      • Be able to create simple, complete stories quickly (story basics – details do not matter).
        • Successfully created Flat Arc based story outline, complete with additional development, in one day. Need more testing to see if it was a fluke.
        • Successfully created Negative Disillusionment Arc in one day, minus full development (stakes only).
        • Successfully created Positive Arc, with full development.
        • Currently full development is averaging a second day. This is fine.
        • Status achieved.
    • Writing
      • Find a way to have all the relevant information in front of me while writing.
    • Stakes
      • Define the baseline for personal stakes (General definition for all personal stakes; where’s the similarity? Character is incomplete?).
        • Evidence suggests character is always incomplete or will be.
        • Backed up.
      • Have a surefire way to increase stakes.
        • Practicing identifying base and highest point. If you can go straight from one to the other, do so. If things need to change first, those are levels. It also seems like stakes need to be refreshed every so often, though that might just be me.
      • Remove all doubts about the different types of stakes (how many are there? Purpose?)
        • Doubts removed. Private and public are solid. Reader is my own version, and might or might not exist, but is still a good idea.
      • Know when basic stakes work (know when to stop).
        • Working on this; Currently using premise that basic stakes work when they force the character into action at the end of Act I.
        • From testing: evidence supports this.
      • Be able to easily show a character’s reaction to ultimate loss; ie, when they lose who they are or what they are about (aka, Marlin). Many deep stakes seem to come down to this, so I must be able to show both the loss and the fear of that loss clearly, and convey to the reader what that fear is of and why it drives the character so far.
    • Character
      • Get better at creating real, complex, organic people. Characters currently come down to a few base traits, followed by some (sometimes vague) secondary ones. Backstories have helped. Find that missing ingredient. 
    • Series
      • Be able to work with character arcs within a series of any number of books.
        • From research: two methods: multiple arcs or spread out arc (only for planned end series – Primary example, original Star Wars).
        • Currently untested.

COMPLETED:

  • Able to create basic Beat-Stories quickly (1-2 days – Forced development; 1-2 weeks – Free development).
  • Know the basics of a story (Truth, Lie, Symptoms/Need, Old/New World, Stakes, Want, Obstacle, and sometimes Ghost).
  • Able to generate basic personal stakes – stakes capable of getting character to act at Point of no Return.
  • Able to create a positive character arc easily.
  • Able to create a disillusionment character arc easily.
  • Able to create a flat character arc easily.
  • Now able to create a plot from a character arc.
  • Now able to get a story from an idea within a day, by use of the 3-act structure.
  • Basic full understanding of the 3-act-Structure.

NOTES:

These are notes I have accumulated from reviews.

  • Find a way to avoid killing characters the moment their arcs are completed. Better yet, find a way to keep them involved. (primary example: Gill from Finding Nemo.