Darklight crosses 50,000 word boundary

By Greg Turnquist

Greg L. Turnquist worked on the Spring team for over thirteen years and is a senior staff technical content engineer at Cockroach Labs. He was the lead for Spring Data JPA and Spring Web Services. He wrote Packt's best-selling title, Learning Spring Boot 2.0 2nd Edition, and its 3rd Edition follow-up along many others.

January 24, 2013

Courtesy of http://franckernewein.com/

I don’t know why, but when I crossed the point of having written 50,000 words of Darklight, it felt like a big milestone to me. That happened three days ago.

Two nights ago, I visited Atlanta as the guest speaker for the Atlanta Spring Users Group. After the event, I went back to my hotel room and wrote another 3000 words. I couldn’t stop myself. I would pull up the beat sheet to scope out each scene, and then proceed to hammer out more scenes. That night, the words were flying out of my fingers. I actually first read a couple chapters of a book I got for Christmas, but after that, I couldn’t resist the tug of my laptop. My hunger to write was insatiable. I wrote a scene, then went back to read another chapter. After that I had to write more. When the clock finally rolled over to 2:30am, I realized I had to sleep some time if I was hoping to drive back to Nashville the next morning.

At this point in Darklight, all of my characters really feel well established. My beat sheet planning and detailed character back stories has helped me write past scenes to slowly build up these characters for the reader. My characters now feel like real people to me with real personalities. And I am hoping that I can imbue my prose with that so my readers will feel the same. As I write each scene, it feels easier and easier to express the characters’ emotions, describe their actions and body language, and communicate their interactions with other characters. Not everyone sees eye-to-eye on everything, so there are times when people are arguing loudly, empathizing, and fervently running, and fighting!

I feel like I’m reaping a whirlwind of benefits from the Snowflake Method, which forces you to do this background research before engaging in too much writing. I had already written detailed histories of my key characters and parts of Darklight‘s world before I even heard of the Snowflake Method. But after reading about it, I could tell it was a perfect fit for me. The beat sheet has helped track my scenes, spot weak spots in the story that needed help, and orchestrate my tale. These tools have served me well, and while never crimping my creative process.

I use my beat sheet to track words-per-scene, as well as projecting total length of the story. Even though I have a general target of how many words I want in each scene, I don’t feel like I’m directly working towards that. It would be an egregious act to gate yourself to such a thing, because then it’s either cut things down to size or fluff them up. Instead, some of my scenes run longer than the average, and some run shorter, but the cadence that I have developed makes me feel like the story is moving along perfectly.

Every night I can’t resist sitting up at 11:30pm and banging out another scene, partly because I want to write, but partly because I want to read the fully fleshed out story and not just a summary line in my beat sheet. It’s addictive!

Happy writing!


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