Craig here. For those of you who don't know me, I'm the one in the group wearing a beard. I want to talk about the value of living documents as a writer.
A living document is one that lives on the hard drive, and changes over time. This could be a list, or better yet, a collection of lessons. I feel better knowing I have a quick reference point when outlining and writing a story.
I've been working on short form tales lately, and I keep a simple list. When I write one of the stories, I delete it off the list. When the Muse visits, I add to the list. Pretty basic stuff.
The bigger list is called Writing Lessions. I may have gotten to the writing game late in life, but I'm studious, and I put in the hours. When something clicks with me, I write it on one of my lists. I also flesh it out and add examples that I'm likely to remember. Here are some (but not all) of the headings:
- The Writing Monomyth
- Russian Folktales
- The Screenwriting Method
- Plotting with the Theme Method
- Fairytale Structure
- The Pixar Method
I won't bore you with a list of everything, but you can see that I have options when I start outlining. What will work best for my story? As an example, I used fairytale structure when I wrote the fantasy, The Cock of the South.
I keep a roster of suspense techniques, and used them extensively while writing Will O' the Wisp.
Some of these headings have over a page of notes below them. There are twelve points in the Writing Monomyth, and I dedicated a paragraph or two to each of them.
Then I add notes during the lessons. I wrote, “The best stories are about death and rebirth, either literal or figurative.” While it was fresh in my mind I noted: Westly died, got miracled, and lived happily ever after with Princess Buttercup.
Corny? Probably, but they only have to make sense to me. They aren't for publication. If you decide to start some living documents, the notes only have to make sense to you.
I keep many of these living documents. Whenever someone posts something that clicks with me, I add notes, or start a new document. I have the villain's journey, what kinds of posts to write for a blog tour, an editing document, a list of cryptids, and many more.
Do any of you use living documents as writing tools? Do you think you might start a few after reading this?