It’s November in Seattle, which means a time of rain, darkness, and frantic novel-writing. Seriously, art is how people survive through the winter in the Pacific Northwest. Whether that’s writing, music, knitting, carving, or painting, art has gotten people through the dark of these short winter days for a long time. Last year I wrote down every time I did creative practice on a little slip of paper and put it in a jar, like picked root vegetables. I believe that done without expectation of quality or result, the practice of creating can be a great way to push back despair. Ironically, of course, the difficulty of creating at all, much less of letting go of the expectation of quality or result, is a great cause of despair. I always hope the two balance each other out.
This year I’m writing a comic script, although if the word count becomes too oppressive I’ve given myself permission to also write “in-world documents,” i.e. characters’ letters, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. First off, it turns out that since I am not Alan Moore, individual script pages don’t have that many words on them. So far I’ve averaged 150-300 words per page, which shakes out to 7ish pages of script per day, which is a decent amount of story. I figure I’ll get somewhere between six and twelve issues out of November, which isn’t actually my whole story. Interesting to feel out pacing in this new genre of speed-drafting. I feel like if other (fiction) NaNos have been running a marathon, this is like backpacking a long trail–different pacing, same idea.
Anyway, thankfully I have some really great gear to help me this year: Scrivener.
- Scrivener lets me arrange my scenes on a virtual cork-board (or as an outline), with each scene displayed with a summary on an “index card.” This lets me outline my comics and then choose which scenes I want to write first.
- Each page can contain marginal notes, or pictures, research links, or lists of themes.
- There’s also a spot for character sketches and setting descriptions.
- Actually writing in comic script format is easy. First of, there *is* a comic script format, which is at this point pretty huge. It’s the Anthony Johnson style, which I find approachable. I think it’d be possible to set your own style if you wanted to do a different format, but I haven’t yet gotten that far with the program. Regardless, it will save me hours of formatting in Microsoft Word, which is usually accompanied by screaming and/or slow brain death.
So that’s what I’m up to for NaNoWriMo. If you’re also doing NaNoWriMo, or if you just want some craft resources, I figured I’d ridiculously self-promote by reminding y’all of craft articles I’ve written that might be helpful.
Fiction, How Does It Work (with lots of Kate Beaton cartoons to help explain stuff)
And if you’re tired of hearing me yammer, go check out Bob and Jack’s Writing Blog, which is a treasure trove of great craft articles, including many specific to memoirists.