Monday, January 12, 2015

Part 2: Circling and Story Round-up in Writing

Gayle Gresham at the Mulock Ranch corral in Park County, May 2014

In my last post, Part 1: Circling and Story Round-up, I wrote about my discovery of "circling" and how it worked in researching my book (without me knowing it at the time).

When I started writing the book, my thinking went linear. That's the way you write a book, right? Start at the beginning and write to the end. Using my cattle round-up metaphor, I had to get my cows in a straight line, in the correct order and move them forward. And that worked just the way it would if I went to the pasture and started trying to make our cows line up in a straight line and stay in order!

Everything came to a grinding halt. 3 years later, I am still stuck and overwhelmed. I have bits and pieces of a book, but nothing that reads in order.

Now, in my defense, I do have a chapter order and what events need to go into each chapter. But I get stymied when I try to write. What if I forget something? What if it didn’t happen the way I think? What were the motives? Why did it happen this way?

And then I discovered circling and round-up. What if I round up my book the way I rounded up the research? I start in a broad circle and gather the story. That’s my chapter order. I’ll keep circling in, bringing pieces of the story together.

For the first draft, I’m finding the pieces, seeing how they fit together. I’m bringing them to the corral. I’ll keep circling, looking for strays, but concentrating on what I have and what I know. I’ll keep bringing the story in, tighter and tighter, until I have the center, the focus, the essence of the book.

While circling, I don’t have to have perfection. I’m just gathering the story together. What may seem important (so important it keeps me from writing it) may not be that important in the end. If I get stuck, I’ll circle to the next cow, the next scene, or perhaps another scene that will inform the first scene. I’ll keep circling until I have a story.


I’m not circling to circle. I am circling to bring the story to the center. Moving from the outside in. Circling to make the story complete. Circling to the end.

As a lifetime circler, (I've heard it described as circling the airport and never landing), I realize that this story must land. I have to circle to the center to completion.

 I have numbered the circles in my spiral to be certain I keep moving to the center. Now I know exactly where I am in the spiral and what I need to do to get to the next circle. I have 5 circles in my spiral - the outer circle is a 5 and and inner circle is 1. 1 is the finish line, when the inner circle is filled in, the 1st draft will be complete. Right now I'm at the 4th circle. I figure I'll have half the book rounded up at the 3rd circle.

I'll keep you informed about my circling. It may seem bizarre to you (unless you are a circler, too), but it has opened up my mind to be able to write again. Which makes me very happy!

4 comments:

Heidiwriter said...

A unique way to work on a book! I love it!

Arletta Dawdy said...

Gayle,
Thanks for these entries. My third in the Huachuca Trilogy has seen me floundering both in first draft and rewrite. I found it freeing to write out of sequence at times. Now in re-write, the flow is hampered as I try to blend these into the story. Time to circle!

Oscar said...

Whatever works is the right thing to do. The more you add to the draft, the more you can take out later to get to the end.

Dr. kold_kadavr_flatliner, MD, the sub/dude said...

High, girl!
Faith, hope, and love -
the greatest of these is love:
jump into faith...
and you'll see with love.
Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe
(what I write);
God believes in you.
God. Bless. You.
YeeeHawr!! Meet me where the Son never goes down, cowgirly…