Friday, July 29, 2011

The Question Doc


So, I totally came up with my own tip for writers. That's right. It is something that I do, that I did not read anywhere else. Now, I am SURE that someone can point out to me where this is written, and how I shouldn’t brag, and I’m not a genius. Welp, they might be right about it being written somewhere else, BUT they are not right about me not being a genius. Genius!

Here's the scoopidy doop (which phrase I also made up, but that is not my tip):

I make a Word Doc dedicated to questions that I have about my stories. I am generally a discovery writer, and sometimes as I’m writing a scene, I start to wonder about someone’s background. Sometimes I think a side character is flat and I’m wondering what their deeper goals are. Sometimes I can’t figure out what my world is like, in some particular or another. But while I'm in the middle of writing something FABULOUS, I don't want to stop and take the time to think about the answers to these questions- so I write them in my Question Doc.

I ask questions like this:

Claudio:
Why was he on the road?
Why couldn’t he stop them from capturing him?
Why hasn’t he contacted his family?
How far is it from the inn to the castle? (Distance and time.)

This allows me to keep writing the scene I’m writing (which doesn’t happen to need to answer these questions) but I have record of some things that I would like answered. Sometimes as I’m writing a scene I start to question deeper motivation but can’t dwell on it and pump out the scene that needs at least a skeleton. So I make a note to myself in the Questions Doc and resume writing. Then when I feel like story developing, I open the QDoc and start answering questions.

I’m not sure how clearly I explained that, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I recommend trying it out. It works for me. It just might work for you.



GENIUS! 

23 comments:

  1. That's a cool idea. It's like your own personal FAQ.

    I do keep notes on things like this as I write. For example, "CH 14: I need to settle on a hair color for Angie." I'm going to try your way. It may sound silly, but answering a bunch of questions feels less intimidating than working through a bunch of directives.

    Great tip. Thanks.

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  2. Hmm...that's a pretty great idea. You really ARE a genius!

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  3. Cool... I'll give it a try! (:

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  4. I'd love to hear your writing process, but my problem is obsessing with the process & not the writing... so maybe I shouldn't. I'm about as far from a discovery writer as you get.

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  5. Why questions drive me too. What if ones do as well.

    I just have to leave them out of my queries.

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  6. This is a great idea. I'll have to do this for my next book and try it out.

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  7. Great idea. I just keep it all in my head and then I can't sleep because of all the info swimming around in there. Thanks for the tip.

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  8. Count me in as a genius then, my friend, because I do this too! Only I write everything in my notebook. But you still are a genius! :)

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  9. that is genius! (must be why i do it too)
    but i'm not quite as smart as you, i just write the questions on whatever is handy, a napkin, a receipt, a shopping list...
    like "if Cooper sued PTI 10 yrs ago, wouldnt an exec remember him? must fit that in" and "geri needs to use the cool spy gadgets she has"
    great advice, shelly!

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  10. Someday when I'm more organized.....But yes, you are a GENIUS!

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  11. Thanks for visiting my blog! This is a great tip, and one I know I will use. It fits right in with the way my mind works. Genius!

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  12. That is pretty dang genius! I thwart myself all the time when I'm writing scenes because I start wondering about these things when they're not really pertinent to the scene at hand. Now I have a way to avoid this. Thanks!

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  13. Wow, I know a genius. That's cool. And the tip was great too.

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  14. I like it and I haven't heard anyone else speak on it. Go you.

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  15. Wow! You are a genius, but I think it's because you managed to combine Strictly Ballroom and School House Rocks into one week. Your question idea is pretty good too.

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  16. That is a great tip. I think I will have to steal it. :)

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  17. Doctor or Document? I like the layers... And Shelly, ditto to the comments above. You are a genius. Even if a self-proclaimed one :)

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  18. I put these random notes in my WIP in caps.

    YOU'RE USING THIS WORD TOO MUCH

    DID YOU ALREADY SAY THIS?

    Way helpful.

    Yes.
    You're a genius.

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  19. Really interesting, I have a note book with pictures I've cut out that relate to the character, colours, clothes, what they look like and a biography of their lives, likes etc. For every character, to work, the reader needs know why they are behaving as they are, people will always try to do what they believe to be for the best.

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  20. I do this too, but in a slightly different way. Since I use Scrivener, there's a "research" section where you can keep stuff, so I keep a document there. There's also a notes field for each section/chapter, so if the questions are specific to a scene, I write them in the notes field. It is SO HELPFUL!

    And yes, I agree that it is a GENIUS idea. ;)

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  21. That's brilliant. I'm going to have to make a note to myself to set up a question doc for my next manuscript. I like the idea of having all those backstory/motivation questions in one place. Otherwise you'd be like me with fifteen thousand sticky notes scattered through three different drafts and you can't find the one you're looking for it you try.

    And guess what? I'm your 250th follower! 50's a good number for us, methinks :)

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  22. Loved this article! It inspired me to share a similar tip of my own over on my blog and I added the link to this post as well as a direct link to your blog. Thank you for the inspiration!

    s

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  23. Oh I suppose I should give you a link to it! It can be seen here:

    http://wp.me/p1G2GX-3A

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