Signposts and World Glossaries

signpostsI’m in the throes of research for my current project, the first of four 1924 novels. Okay, really I’m working on a 3K short story set in 1922 as a prequel to the novels. I hope to finish the first novel during NaNo, but now I’m organizing scenes and decorating settings, discovering themes and doing research. Monday I collected information about balms. Saturday I read about bombs.

I’m enjoying my time with the University of Iowa’s online course—How Writers Write: Talks on Craft and Commitment. (I exercise while watching the first author-instructor and eat breakfast while listening to the second. This is the way to take classes!) Earlier this week I saw Leslie Jamison’s talk about world glossaries and Elizabeth Graver’s talk on immersion research.

Disclaimer. I am as wholly committed to writing being the best way to work on my craft as I am about learning through workshops and books on writing. Balance is the key. If I tip one way or the other, WRITING is the right way to improve.

One cannot escape the fact that the front end of the project is all about research, plotting and considering charactersnot necessarily in that order. This week I’ve made lists of names and objects, and how they would illuminate the mystery set in 1922 and the romance set in 1924. I’ve explored how the characters would tap into objects to reveal emotion, flaws and mission. Then I considered how the plot would unfold as a result.

I’ve been immersing in the 1920s through research, history rooms at the local libraries, photographs, old movies, and books set in the era. I study photographs and count the number of cars passing in films, I read encyclopedias and browse the internet, look up slang, antique dress patterns, and common baby names of the era. middle-cover-w003aborder

I read about outlining using 14 signposts in James Scott Bell’s insightful book—Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between. Both a familiar and new approach when compared to Save the Cat’s beat sheet. Tuesday I created Bell’s fourteen signposts for the novel. Very helpful. Today I’m doing the same for the short story.

The plots and characters are emerging from the mist. That’s a good sign.

About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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4 Responses to Signposts and World Glossaries

  1. John McElroy says:

    I always thought that writing a novel would be a very daunting task. I really admire your own “craft and commitment” Michelle! Best of luck with your 1920s work.

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