My new day job that I started earlier this year comes with a longer commute on the train. Time effectively spent with writing on my current book, a science fiction thriller romp with a lot of “citations” from classics such as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The Terminator”, or “Independence Day”. The writing process for me comes in several stages. Ideation and plotting are the core creative parts, fleshing out the story from a one liner (“A bunch of stranded aliens try to steal back their spaceship from US military”) to a fifty chapter structure. After that it’s writing. The most challenging part. Will the story idea hold up to hundred-thousand words? Will the characters be interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention for such a long time? Will all the plot-lines play out as sketched out?
Let me explain “Writing Burn Down Zero”: Burn down is my take on agile project methodology, adapted for writing. The fifty-plus chapter cards are my task repository, writing one after another — not necessarily in chapter order — is like developing a piece of software. One function point after another, each chapter stands on its own, with own drama and cast of characters, reactive or active, and with a small cliff hanger at the end. And the long list of chapters slowly burns down like a candle, two steps forward, one step back , putting flesh to the bare bone, creating life.
“Burn Down Zero” for my latest story approaches fast, I am running out of things to write, that moment when my burn down list will be empty. All chapters will be there. The story is there. All the characters are in. All stories within the story are resolved.
The story will be far from done, don’t get me wrong here. All over the place, I entered my open issue code “xxx”: missing story twists, missing descriptions, holes I found and was too lazy to resolve, missing characters. The next phase of work, resolving the xxx’ses, will take me as long as writing the story itself and usually adds ten percent of additional word count. I hate what’s ahead, but I love approaching Burn Down Zero! (Anytime next week)
The story is there.
I’ve made it this far!
A good feeling.