Well, at least the dog has a name (Writing journal, October 19, 2012)

I’ve got outside jobs to do today, but it’s been damp and gloomy this morning, so I’m going to put a few things in the journal first.

Things really seem to be coming together nicely for Unanimous Consent. I spent much of last night organizing my notes in Scrivener. I had previously written some portions–most of which I no longer like, so I moved them to a new folder called “Experiments”. I also created folders for characters and places. And in addition to the top-level notes document I had, I’ve now added ones for “Outline”, “Dialog Bits”, and “Tagline”. Dialog Bits is to record all the little pieces of dialog and scenes that pop into my head, for example, the one about democracy that came to me yesterday.

I’ve decided to relax about the outline. At this point, I don’t need to get that perfect or even complete. The important thing for now is that I have a good list of things I know I need to write about to keep me moving along in November. I can figure out how they all fit together later—maybe even after November—and fill in the missing pieces then. Chances are, the outline will fill itself in as I go along. So, I’m keeping it simple for now: I’ve broken the novel down into two parts, the first being before the main character buys and settles in his new Wyoming territory, and the other, after. And then under each, I’m listing the scenes and topics that need to be written without regard to order.

In reviewing my old notes, I took out what I didn’t like and moved parts to the documents where they really belong (such as character-related notes to the main character document). I saw that I’d previously named the dog “Milton”, presumably in honor of Milton Friedman, so I’m going with that for now. Similarly, I’d proposed the names “Liberty”, “Freedom”, “Freedonia”, and “Prosperity” for the new territory. It occurred to me this morning that I may really need two names: one for the territory, and one for the town. And proposed names for the main character: “Perry Clark” and “John”. I need to figure that out soon.

So, at this point, I’ve got a “Manuscript” folder ready to go in Scrivener. It has markers for “Part 1″ and “Part 2″ and a few initial documents for chapters. 55 words so far—accounting for notes in some of the files.

I went ahead and bought a license for Scrivener this morning. I had nine days left on their (generous) trial, but I know I want to use it for writing, so I figured I’d get that out of the way.

Another good sign: I woke up this morning dreaming about Unanimous Consent. We were in a hospital—usually not a good thing, but everyone seemed happy. I don’t remember much else, but it helped me realize I should include a section about healthcare in the new territory. I just now added it to the outline.

When I typed yesterday’s entry on the blog, I wrote the two dialog scenes in screenplay format—it just seemed more natural that way, and it gave me a chance to try out Scrivener’s scriptwriting features—actually pretty nice.

I was thinking about those scenes more this morning and realized that despite how fun it was to think and write, the one with the work buddies discussing the Mobile Cheesesteak Factory isn’t actually likely to end up in the book (the other one about democracy probably will). Nonetheless, it was a useful exercise because it helped me get to know those characters and visualize the story better. Not everything that happens in this imaginary world needs to be in the book. I was thinking about that earlier, wondering if my main character wears glasses or contacts or had laser eye surgery. Unless he wears glasses (so it affects his appearance), it probably won’t matter. I probably won’t need to write about him putting in his contacts even if he does every day.

The other interesting thing about that sports bar discussion scene is that I ended up with a character with my name saying things I probably wouldn’t say. And it reminded me that even though I identify with that main character and that he will share many of my thoughts, he is not me. He has a life of his own and I have to give him the freedom to develop his own personality and to do things that are true to himself rather than limiting him to things I would do.

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