Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Case of the Hybrid Hibiscus

Sharon Wildwind

No, it’s not an Earl Stanley Gardner title. It’s a little side passion I’ve developed.

A while back I got bored with typed pages of notes, stapled in one corner. About this time I was making my first foray into bookbinding by learning to do simple pamphlet binding. Pamphlet binding requires simple computer manipulation of typed text, a sharp needle, embroidery thread, and, if you want to get fancy, a drop or two of Fray-Check for the ends of the thread.

Instead of typing my notes in a single column, I set up the page in a landscape, two-column format, type away and do some page manipulation so that the pages can be folded in the middle. Punch an odd number of holes in the fold, sew the pages together with the embroidery thread and Fray-Check the ends.

It was so cool and easy to make these little books that I decided it wouldn’t be any trouble at all to add a cover sheet of stiffer, colorful card stock. Then I started printing on the covers. And as long as I had those neat covers, it would be a minute’s work to make pockets on the inside. Maybe some embellishments on the cover? A little line drawing, a face molded out of paper clay, a few beads? You can see where this is leading? Anyone out there thinking the obsession word?

Well, okay, maybe.

In any case, every fall I collect the bits and pieces I’ve learned about writing during the past year and incorporate them into a document that started out being called Vision and Revision. I mean, how boring can you get?

A few years ago I started naming each year’s output in the style of a famous mystery writer. The first year it was Thyme Will Tell, incorporating the name of an herb into the title like Susan Wittig Albert does. Last year it was The Clue in the Printed Page, a nod to Nancy Drew titles.

This year because I had some wonderful red and white hibiscus card stock Earl Stanley Gardner got the nod with The Case of the Hybrid Hibiscus. Hibiscus because of the card-stock and Hybrid because of how many writers I've grafted together in one pamphlet.

I’d love to share my how-to book with you, but I can’t because, frankly, I've stolen almost everything in there from other writers, and that limits me to one copy, for personal use only. But I will share my index with you and the list of people from whom I’ve cribbed, which you are welcome to use as a guide o build your own how-to book.

Writing a Novel: Theme Statement to Final File Clean-up

Global View and Plot Layers (both modified from Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel workshop and manual

Brand, blurbs and Hooks (courtesy of Suzanne McMinn, Caroline Scott, and Kathy Lynch Carmichael)

Synopsis (from my favorite synopsis queen Beth Anderson)

Then I’ve got some stuff unique to the writing organization software that I use and a list of the templates I’ve set up inside that software. I've set up character, scene, and sequel templates.

Scene and Sequel (thanks to Sherry Lewis and her Dancing on Coals workshops)

Writing a Novel
Establish the skeleton (draft zero, the unfinished manuscript)
Add muscle to the story (first complete rewrite)
Allow emotions to take over (second complete rewrite)

Preliminary Editing
What backups to make and when to make them.
Using the writing organization software to make a bridge from writing to editing.
Find-word Edit (first editing pass)
The Nuts-and-Bolts of Book Killers (lots of people here)

Final content revision
What is this novel worth to you? (Getting outside readers)
Final content revision tips (thanks to Liz Loundbury)
Final formatting: what the publisher wants, the publisher gets

Building a submission package

Final File Clean-Up, Archival copies, and updating things like timelines so you can start the next book in the series.
Quote for the week:
It's a jungle out there and an author needs a good sharp machete.
~Pat Browning, mystery writer

Colorful card stock, drawing materials, and a little paper clay don't go amiss either. (Sharon's comment)