Progress! I have had such a writing block recently, but a WhatsApp chat with some writer friends over the weekend has given me a fresh perspective. They were discussing the use of index cards to organise/rearrange the chapters of a WIP. One person said that if they can’t sum up what happens in a chapter in a sentence or two then they go back to look at whether that chapter serves a purpose.
I didn’t have any index cards in the house, but thought I’d try to recap each chapter with Post-it notes, giving each of my three protagonists a different colour. This is how it looks:
It has shown me more clearly which scenes/chapters I still need to write, as I expected. But it is also helping me to see at a glance what is going on with the other characters around that timeframe without having to rifle through the pages of my chapter summaries. I was also unsure about one of the voices, and had considered ditching her, or just allowing her an occasional intrusion. Seeing this, I can see that her story fits in as opposed to the shoehorning I was worried about.
As a result of the exercise, I’ve made more progress and tied up more plot points in the last couple of days than I have in months. Sometimes looking at your project from a different angle can shed new light.
It’s never a hardship to watch classic films, and this week’s lot were wonderful. I revisited The Big Sleep, Blithe Spirit (right), The Importance of Being Earnest and Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House.
For something new, I watched Mary Poppins Returns with my daughter. It was very sweet, though I couldn’t see what it added to the original, it seemed like the same story all over again. There was one beautiful number, sung by the very talented Ben Whishaw as grieving dad Michael Banks, which moved both of us to tears and fits with what I’m writing about. I’ll have to see if I can put it to use.
I also watched Funny Girl for the first time, rectifying a terrible gap in my movie musical knowledge. I can’t imagine why I’ve never gotten around to seeing it before, but it really is packed with amazing Barbra Streisand showstoppers like ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’. An absolute joy:
Finally, if you have a novel looking to go out into the world, there are quite a few novel competitions with deadlines at the end of May. You’ll find a list on my round-up here.