Writing multiple narratives in Living on Dirt

I was going to start my Writing blog with some pithy and insightful commentary on the craft. I’ve written a lot about writing over the years. I’ve taught writing. But none of those things are as important as the fact that I do write. So For my very first post, I’m going to give a snapshot of what it is I do when I’m writing.

 

This is my progress log for Living on Dirt, the second volume in my Dirt and Stars series of YA science fiction novels. The columns are date, day, word goal, words written, % of goal, countdown to deadline, and the scene I wrote. (Blessed as I am with the attention span of a mayfly and the organizational skills of a magpie, I need to do a lot of things to keep myself on track.)

Each novel in the series is written in the form of journal entries written by the characters, so the story is told from multiple viewpoints, and each character adds their own perspective on – and interpretation of – events. All of the journal entries are woven together over the course of the novel, so the story is told in chronological order. However, they’re not written in order. If one character is following a strong story arc I write several of their entries in a row, following the arc, then put each in its proper place in the overall narrative when I’m assembling the novel.

In the first Dirt and Stars novel, Down to Dirt, the narrators were Mara Duval, Beth Duval, and Jael Alden. In Living on Dirt we also have the journals of Lije Bronislav and Fatima Kielani. I’ve been working with Fatima the last few days.* She has more to do in Living on Dirt than what I’ve written, but I’ll be leaving her alone for a bit. Another character is about to get in serious trouble and until that runs its course Mara’s journal entries will have priority.

*(You’ll note I didn’t write the scenes in order, I wrote them when they were ready. A subject for another day.)

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