Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Trying a New Formula

When I took a literature class last semester, I had some concern about writing papers. I knew how to write papers that were based on primary sources, but the idea of revisiting the research paper and consulting with commentary made me nervous.

At the end of the fall semester, I discovered a way to write these academic papers that worked for me. I would make an outline, and then allow myself to vomit words and ideas onto the page for each bullet point, skipping the introduction and conclusion unless I felt especially inspired.

Once I had vomited approximately 2.5 times the number of required words onto the page, I would begin the slash and burn portion of the operation. Cut, rearrange, order, add transitions and make sure citations are correct and correctly formatted. Although there were portions I might have been attached to, I didn’t feel any compunctions about cutting them if they did not fit in with the narrative of the paper.

From there, I would write the introduction and the conclusion to fit what I had worked out for the body. Or I would finish writing them, as sometimes I would figure them out during the word vomit section and they might help shape the selection of body paragraphs. Finally, a nice, evocative title could be chosen and I’d be done.

Even though the spring semester’s instructor required rough drafts to be turned in, I did not deviate much from my method. Writing a 2 page rough draft is not something that works for me, so I only did it for the last paper, when a 2 page rough draft was required. However, I did the draft with bullet points. Because how can you fit a 5 to 7 page paper into 2 pages unless you are severely abbreviating your points?

At any rate, with the end of the semester drawing near, I’ve decided to try an experiment. I’m going to attempt to write fiction using the same method that I’ve been using for academic papers. I’ll start with a topic and a working title. The working title will be the one sentence pitch for the story, describing the basics of what it is about. The topic will ask a question and I will seek to answer it in the body. The bullet points will be the bases of scenes that I will word vomit on to the page.

The slash and burn phase will remain the same.

I’m not sure how the introduction and conclusion thing might translate, but I think this will be, at the least, interesting for me, and, at best, helpful. No matter how I do it though, it is time to start cranking out some stories. After all, I’ve got a lot of rejections to collect this year.

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