Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spreadsheets Are My Friend, And I Have The Pictures To Prove It!

As anyone involved in my writing group Struggling Writers Society can attest, I was horribly disappointed in myself this past Saturday. It was the close of the second week of our August writing challenge - a challenge I'm HOSTING, by the way - and I didn't do ANYTHING involving writing the whole week; this blog being an exception.

The whole process of tracking down the posts was such a tedious one; I didn't want to do it anymore. I had started spreadsheets to help me out for future use, but it didn't save me time now.

Wide awake with my Sunday Insomnia, and sickened at the fact that I hadn't even THOUGHT about doing any writing this past week, I finally knuckled down. I wasn't going to allow myself to sleep until I had everything plotted out at least. I even went through and redid some of my spreadsheet; again, for ease later down the line.

I still have tons of threads to add to the sheet, but here it is right now:
Along with thread name, location, and date it was started, I added a column to determine if I wrote anything from that thread before. The most important one, in my opinion, is that last column. Smartest thing I did in regards to plotting this out. That last column lists the post number for the start of the next story segment from that thread. It also lists the date the next story segment is posted; that way I can find the posts I need that much easier.

Honestly, with that last column, I don't think I need the "Yes/No/Won't Be" column, nor the "date created" one. I feel all the info I need is really in that last section I created. Go me! I'm really proud of myself for coming up with listing that.

Alright, so that's semi-set for me for next time, now to return to NOW. What do I have done NOW to help me with my month-long goal to have another chapter posted of X-Future: The Second Generation Begins?

Well, as I stated last week, I started off the same way I did for the first eight chapters of TSGB. I was copying the posts and dumping them into Word. Well, since I don't have Microsoft Word on my laptop - nor can I GET it for my laptop - I ended up attempting to dump it into an OpenOffice document. It didn't work too well, and putting it into Google Docs wouldn't have helped. I wasn't even done with the day - maybe only 1/2 way - and I was already up to 51 pages. Mostly because the table cells get HUGE in comparison to the actual forum's layout.

Case and point, here are the same two panels; one from the forum and one in OpenOffice:

So, yeah, dropping them in Word was a really bad idea. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before, but I had the lightbulb-moment to put everything into yet another spreadsheet; just copy and dump. I didn't need anything more than the action/dialogue and who the poster was.
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That 51+ page chaos soon became simplistic. Even better, I was able to categorize the posts easier. Now, instead of scrolling through endless posts in Word, I can jump to a new sheet. This meant I was also able to find appropriate break points in the story during that day or two of posting. So, I have distinctive starts and stops for the different story segments. I'm not going to just keep writing until I find that natural break; I know when it's coming!

This also means that I know how many chapters I can get out of that day of posting, that spilled into a second day to finish up the role play.

Check that out! Three! Three new chapters! Well, and a "random event" that no one really reacted to, but it still greatly affects the story world, and so I have to include it somewhere. I just need to figure out where, and fabricate reactions from characters....

Anyway, point is, I have three new chapters plotted out. All that headache set me up for three chapters! I think that evens things out a bit. That also means that TSGB is indeed going to be an epic. I'm not even a week into the role play and I'm already going to have 11 chapters; possibly more once the role play week is done!

I haven't yet, but I need to get cracking on actually WRITING the thing now. It's the fun part, but I haven't had time until today. So, I guess I know what I'm doing while Hubby's at work. I am determined to not let this week slip by like last week did; Sunday and now not included. I WILL have a sample for you folks next week. With any luck, I'll have a full chapter, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

In the meantime, there IS someone who managed to get a chapter done. Although I would love to say it was Ronoxym getting back into writing, sadly I think he's become too preoccupied lately. He has a really big career opportunity coming up, and so his focus is justifiably on that.

Instead, the person who got some major writing accomplished is someone I don't think I've mentioned yet in this blog.

Yesterday, one of my college buddies very proudly posted the chapter she had been working on for a little while. Although I don't recall her actively participating in SWS's writing challenge this month, I still consider this as one of the challenge's victories. The whole point of me starting up the challenge is to help shake the dust off some people. A lot of us have let writing - something we all expressed a passion for; simply by signing up for my group - slip into a nearly-forgotten hobby. I wanted to bring it back to the forefront; back to us proving to ourselves how important it is for us. Cassie hadn't written in a while - or, at least, she didn't post online about it - and so her giddily sharing that she was back to writing was exciting.

Better yet, she was trying out something new. Most writers are instructed to write what we know, that's mostly because it's super hard to believably write what we DON'T know. Granted, through practice, study, and interviewing we can write what we don't know, but it's a struggle. One that Cassie bravely took on.

She wrote in a male's perspective. She was nervous about making it seem realistic, and probably still is unsure of herself. She even admits that it isn't her best work; yet. Still, she went outside her comfort zone, and shared it with the world on top of that.

So, why not hit up the post, and then let her know what you think, especially if you're a guy. She'd gladly accept the criticism: Chpt 2 - Caleb

And, while she seems to be still figuring out who she is as a blogger, her posts are entertaining. Give them all a check, and you might as well add her to your reading list while you're there.

Cassie Jean, Writer; A Work in Progress

Anyway, yay progress for my fellow SWS writer!

Now to focus on some of my own.

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