BATTLE PLAN Part One: Overview--Conquering the Page: Creating Your Own Fiction Writer's Battle Plan Series

Saturday, February 6, 2010

***This is Part One of my six-part series.  Go to Part Two here.***

AH-TEN-HUT!

Company, STAND at attention!

DID YOU HEAR ME?  Don't be eyeballin' me!   AH-TEN-HUT!  When I say those words, that means YOU don't move.  That means YOU stand at attention when I address you.  That means YOU keep you eyes forward--I see you gawking Postie!  You want ME to show you the DOOR?

You all look like you wanna run HOME to Momma.  Right now you're probably thinking to yourself: SELF, why am I here?  What on GAWD'S GREEN EARTH brought me to this blog?

Well I KNOW why you're here.  YOU want your very own FICTION WRITER'S BATTLE PLAN, dontcha!  DONTCHA?

I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

And you know what, even though someone should give you a TISSUE because you're just CRYING for leadership, I'm gonna take PITY on you.  I'm gonna take you under my wing, jus' like you was FAMILY--only don't go gettin' confused!  This ain't no love fest!

But if you listen and listen well, YOU might learn a thing or two.

Today, I'm gonna cover the ELEMENTS of a Fiction Writer's Battle Plan.  Why do I need one, YOU ask?  YOU want to write a book, dontcha?  YOU want to be a published author, dontcha?  I see YOU shaking your heads yes.

Let me paint a picture for you:

Say you're halfway through your WIP--and suddenly you can't seem to find the time to write.  Laundry.  PTA.  Football.  All those other activites that are in your life start to take over.  And then when it comes to time to write, you got NOTHING.  NADA.  How YOU gonna respond? 

Or you're out there in front of your computer, operating alone and unafraid.  You come over that rise and you find yourself FACE TO FACE with the blank page.  What you gonna do?  I MEAN how you gonna react?

You gotta be ready for ANYTHING, people, and the Battle Plan will help you get there.  So let me BOIL it down for you.

Conquering the Page: Creating Your Own Fiction Writer's Battle Plan

If some stuffy General Officer like NAPOLEON or MONTGOMERY was up in here, he'd probably give you a bunch of tired old CLAPTRAP like "Writing is a war and the blank page is the battlefield," or  "Every word you manage to add to your manuscript is another bullet you put downrange to defeat the enemy."

But all that high-fallutin' propaganda is beside the point.  It's nice to think all ABSTRACT and stuff, but when it comes to writing, we gotta keep it REAL.

All those lame mixed war metaphors is a bunch of BOOLCRAP.  YOU know it.  I know it.  Besides, Napoleon was a pansy.  He couldn't write himself out of a paper bag.

No, we ain't got no Generals here.  Just little old me.  And I'm gonna give it to you STRAIGHT.  We don't care about the HYPE.  We care about RESULTS.

So we're gonna give you what you NEED.  Regardless of what kind of fiction YOU write--if you want to KNOCK that novel out of the park or POP off short stories like POPCORN--what YOU need is a BATTLE PLAN.

What goes into a Battle Plan, you ask?  Well let me tell you: five things.  Five stinking things.  And the beauty is, once YOU have a GOOD Battle Plan, you're ready for anything.  I mean AH-NEE-THING!

Here's a quick rundown on what we're gonna do.

First, define your mission.  What IS your objective?  What ARE you after?  THIS hill here?  THAT hill over there?  What are YOUR short-term goals?  What are YOUR long-term goals?  And when I say GOALS, I'm talking about MORE than "what do I want for chow tonight?"

Second, organize.  You there!  Cross!  Put down that I-Pod and stand at attention!  I don't care what song is playing.  That's right!

Where was I?  Oh yes.  When I say ORGANIZE, you probably think I'm talking about your sock drawer.  I'm not.  I mean everything to do with WRITING.  What, RECRUIT, are the essential tasks you must accomplish in order to achieve YOUR writing objectives?

Third, implement the Plan.   So YOU come up with a plan, and it's a doozy!  It's the best plan since General Custer's Last Stand.  What do YOU do next?  How do you put it into practice?

Fourth, improvise.  You think everything goes as planned?  No way Sonny.  This is WAR.  NOTHING goes as planned, so you have to be PREPARED.  You HAVE to expect the unexpected.

Fifth, assess your progress and adjust fire.  If you're shooting at a bad guy and he moves, do you still keep shooting at the same spot?  That better be a big "NO!" I hear.   The answer is no.  You make adjustments, you figure out what works and what doesn't.  Then you move out smartly.

So that's it in a nutshell.  Next week we're going to go through each of these parts of the Battle Plan in much greater detail.  I want you to come LOCKED and LOADED and ready to learn!

I know I went through it quick, but do YOU have any questions?  Raise your hand if YOU have a question.  Good.  That's what I like to SEE.

Now I have a short FILM I want you to watch.  This will INSPIRE you to be ready for class next week.  After the movie, I want you to fall out of formation and carry on with the Plan of the Day.

Be back here at Oh-SIX-hundred hours Monday morning for Part Two: Defining Your Writing Mission.  AND DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT BEIN' LATE!

DISSSS-MISSED!

[Editor's Note: With all due respect to the Drill Sergeant, next week's posts will be somewhat more "traditional."  Thanks for stopping by!]

14 bolts from the blue:

Liza said...

Well done JP! I'm inspired, a little scared, but inspired. Looking forward to Monday.

Alex Jenson said...

You've been watching Full Metal Jacket haven't you? I like this, it's kinda humorous and self-deprecating. I agree with many of the points...it's all about making it up as you go along. Keep it up.

SM Schmidt said...

It was worth the Drill Sarg's yelling for the video at the end.

Postman said...

Yes SIR Drill Sergeant sir!

That's a handy-dandy little list there. I've been sort of banging along, not paying much attention to plans or organization, but I could probably stand to do that more often. Might save me a headache. Might also save me from the bad guys. Might win the war for me, even. Thanks for posting.

Jon Paul said...

Yes yes yes! I know it was way over the top, but it was fun to write. Seriously there'll be some good stuff next week.

Liza--thanks!

Alex--Funny you mention it, but both boot camp (I was enlisted once) and Officer Candidate School were pretty similar to this, so it wasn't hard to parrot the style and delivery.

Schmidty--I'm glad the strategy worked.

Postie--Gotta watch out for those bad guys. There, well, bad.

Thanks guys for stopping through. More coming next week.

Rachel Fenton said...

Haha - I like this, but you know what, it's not half so intimidating in an English accent!

I suppose you don't have to wworry about making your writing anything other than American though - do you think about this? - becasue once you've cracked America you've made it - you're rich - but over here I can make it in NZ and still be as poor as a church mouse or I can make it in the UK and that's good but I'm still only in the UK and no-one else hears about my writing......it's food for thought, under all the fun and frippery of this there's a very interesting thing to be thought about......

I'm liking this - you get me thinking!

Cate P said...

I didn't move at all, honest I didn't.
Though the timing of me reading this is incredible, as I did watch Stripes yesterday and I was waiting for you to break into a Bill Murray style "boom chugga lugga lugga boom chugga lugga lugga" :)
Very inspiring post all the same.

Jon Paul said...

Rachel--Ha! I did consider including a Monty-Python-"Don't Stand Around Gawking Like You've Never Seen The Hand Of God Before" left turn in the middle of post, but decided against it. But your right, more intimidating this way.

As for being rich once I've "cracked America," I'll believe it when I see it.

Cate--Serendipity must have a sense of humor. That movie always cracks me up--although I never got the part at the end about the combat RV or whatever it was.

Thanks, ladies, for stopping in!

Anissa said...

Thank you, Sir! Great post.

Mystery Robin said...

Love the Battle Plan - it feels like a battle sometimes, doesn't it??

Jon Paul said...

Anissa & Mystery Robin--Thanks for stopping in! And yeah, it does feel like a battle--a lot of the time.

elizabeth mueller said...

Oooh. I got chills reading this! What a wonderful pep talk! I am all for it! Thanks for caring about us writers and posting that there for us, SIR!
;)

Christine H said...

Where did my comment go?

Claire Dawn said...

Man, I love the post, and I love the vid. Bring it on and Lord of the Rings in the same space is nothing short of brilliance. Wonder if anyone can name all the movies...

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