If alien archaeologists ever dig up Portland, Oregon, I’m kind of hoping that they don’t ever come across my drafting/brainstorming notebooks. I’m pretty sure they’d leave Earth with the idea that humans are completely
unable to punctuate
write really banal stuff
I was thinking of this the other day when I was buying more spiral-bound notebooks for my WIPs. I wish I could say that I was totally organized, like I keep all of the notes for one book/novella in its own notebook, but that doesn’t happen at all. Instead, I’ll be roughing my way through a scene, think something like OMG, this needs to go into Michael’s book! or Oh, Yasmeen needs to say this! and flip forward a few pages, sketching out that scene, too.
So when I finally begin to work on a project, I end up flipping through my recent notebooks, flagging the scenes that I wanted to include. It’s usually pretty easy to find them (I will write something likeat the top of the page) but interpreting my own writing is usually not so easy. My brain writes a lot faster than my fingers do, and so my notes often suffer for it.
It’s crowded and ugly, but as long as I can read (or guess) what 90% of the words are, I’m doing good.
It’s not always so crowded, either. Long sections of the dialogue usually break down into a page like this:
No punctuation, only a few speaker identifiers (If I can’t tell who would say what just by looking at what they say/know and how they say it, then I’ve got a serious characterization problem.) Mostly, this allows me to see the flow of the conversation before I start the real writing, and to make certain I get to the point/fulfill everything that I need to in a scene.
I’ve also got pages (lots and lots of pages) where I call myself a stupid idiot and cross out tons of stuff, but I’ll spare you those 😀
If you’re a writer, I’m curious — do you rough out your work like this or in some other way? And for the readers — is it scary to see the mess that the books come from (and honestly, these are pretty clean pages) or is it pretty much like you imagined?