Trees, Forests, and A Bird’s Eye View by Nevada McPherson
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “Trees, Forests, and A Bird’s Eye View.” Enjoy!
Fall is upon us and with it comes endings and beginnings.
For me, it’s the end of the summer and the rough draft phase in the development of my novel. It’s also the beginning of rewrites, revisions, and serious editing.
During the late spring lockdown and summer, while many were deep cleaning and decluttering their homes and setting up neat and efficient home offices, I put off decluttering chores to write willy-nilly on a project that I began developing last fall during NaNoWriMo.
I thought I’d finish it by the end of November, or at least the end of December, and as I’ve written here before, I’ve only lately completed a very rough draft.
There are a couple of gaps to fill in more fully and some loose threads left to weave together and tighten. Before I do those things though, I’m looking at issues of structure.
Breaking this Project Down into Parts
While structuring an effective story can at times be difficult, I’m finding relief in breaking this project down into parts, each with its own function and purpose.
Like the old saying goes, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.
I’ve been wandering in the forest, following everything that looks like a trail to see where it might lead, exploring aspects of my story and my characters that will never see the light of day; it was worthwhile nonetheless because it gave me insight into character, motivation, and theme.
Order from Chaos
Now I need to impose some type of order onto all this chaos that is the culmination of an idea I had twenty years ago.
The other night I sat on the floor, separating my pages (of which there are many) into sections containing the beats of my story.
I color-coded scenes from the point-of-view of each major character and broke the story further into parts, trying to weave in that storyline that I left until the end and am still working out to some degree — with new ideas arriving daily that keep me making notes and envisioning the final touches.
I’ve done some research already, but then I just started writing (because I know all about getting stuck in research mode).
Bird’s Eye View
Now that I’ve gone through the entire rough draft and made notes of just what I need, I’ll tackle the last phase of research with surgical precision.
The wandering in the woods phase is over and now I’m getting more of a bird’s view of the forest, which is nice!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Georgia, Nevada McPherson lived in uptown New Orleans for many years and now lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi in Milledgeville, GA where she is a professor of Humanities at Georgia Military College. Nevada received a BA in English/ Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She’s written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, one short screenplay, a short play, short stories and two graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons. Queensgate, the sequel to Uptowners, is her third graphic novel. For more information, visit www.nevada-mcpherson.com.