Writing Checklist

This is the writing checklist. Here, I will keep track of two things. Firstly, the writing techniques or problems which I am currently working on or investigating, and my progress on them. Secondly, I’ll keep track of a ‘novel checklist’. This is everything I need to be able to do before I start writing novels. If you have suggestions for additions to the checklist, please let me know.

CURRENT PROGRESS

  • Dynamic characters
    • Experimenting with ‘character introductions’. (Note to self: change these as the characters change.)
  • Be able to generate Character Arcs
    • Easy creation of arc and steps. Requires stakes, inherent sympathy, possibly high worth (investigate), scale, urgency (as needed per tension level), stakes levels, complications, twists, subcharacter development, and character dimensions.
  • Define personal stakes baseline:
    • Currently character is always incomplete in some way, or will be made incomplete. Waiting for results from testing….
      • Character Arc testing indicates this is correct, and is a result of the character’s Lie and Need.
      • Further testing reinforces this hypothesis.
      • Negative Arc (disillusionment) single test uses a threat of incompleteness if the plot doesn’t get out of the way.
  • Know when basic stakes work
    • Practicing stopping when the motivation is strong enough to get the character to act as needed. This has been a major problem in the past (my inability to know when to stop, meaning my stakes kept falling apart because I could never define when they worked).
      • From testing: Now testing an unexplained need.
  • Be able to show any character internal thought without dialogue or narration.
    • Have a good method, got to get used to (and good with) it.
  • Investigate how character arcs work in a series.
    • From research: two methods discovered, spread out arc, or multiple arcs (combo: multiple spread out arcs).
    • Understood. Not tested.

CHECKLIST:

  • Structure
    • Know the steps of the second act, and feel as sure about them as with the first and third acts.
      • Process Understood. Not understood as well as the first/third acts. Testing.
  • Theme
    • Be able to show any character realization, decision, reaction, or thought, with no dialogue, and with only one or two powerful and clear actions/motions/looks.
      • Feel good about this. Waiting for reader input.
    • Be able to convey an idea with no dialogue and a minimum of action. (benchmark: watching sunset silently)
      • Feel good about this. Waiting for reader input.
    • Be able to create passive themes. Preferably quickly.
      • Process theoretically works, but has so far failed to yield a working setting.
  • 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.
      • From Character Arc Testing (positive): Lie, Truth, Old World, seem to yield the Want and New World (if applicable), and Ghost (if needed). Note that theme is embedded, and is source of Truth/Lie.
      • 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.
    • 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:
    • Be able to create true twists in a plot structure (meaning you set up a misdirection, then twist back to the original plan).
      • Theoretical process works, yet to test successfully.
    • Be able to quickly find out how one thing should lead to another (investigate if there is a ‘best’ way for things to transition). Used when connecting necessary points in plots, subplots, and character arcs.
    • 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).
      • Understand principles of Positive Arc, have not yet made one.
      • Currently full development is averaging a second day. This is fine.
  • 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
    • Be able to create a compelling (compelled to think about/ponder) character through the use of inner conflict (conflicting sides).
    • Be able to create dynamic characters (should stem from the above).
    • Be able to create anti-author characters (characters who are not just parts of the author projected onto the page).
    • Investigate four-point thematic character plots.
      • Scrapped by character arcs.
  • 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 a 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.
  • Cursory 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.

Version 1.4