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Jedi Knight Muse

Getting back to old, long-term projects

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What do you do when you want to get back to an old writing project that you haven't worked on or even thought much about in a while, but you want to be able to tackle it again? What do you do to help get you back into the characters' heads again?

For example, now that NaNo is over, I want to get back to my Storms of Magic project. It's been...roughly a year, give or take, since the last time I really thought about and worked on it (except for the fact that this past summer I did go through the notes from @Penguinball and @kherezae from when they beta read it and I made my own notes based on their notes) and actually written anything in the point of views of either of the main characters, and I'm like...I'm kind of nervous that because it's been so long, it might not be that easy for me to get back into their heads, which will make it harder to want to rewrite/add in more scenes to the current draft and get it fixed up for more beta reading.

My plan right now is to:

  • Read the current draft of Storms of Magic while taking notes strictly of what happens in the story.
  • Use this as a template for making a list of scenes to add/change.
  • Read the notes from Kher and Penguin again
  • Make the add/change list
  • Try to find some writing prompts to respond to and help get back into their heads

I really want to get back to working on this, 'cause I don't want it to be one of those projects that I just never do anything with, especially because it's my first real full draft of one of my writing projects that I actually finished writing and I really want to do something with it. I keep feeling like there's a chance I might lose interest in it, and I really don't want that to happen, which is why I'm hoping that if I go back and read the notes and if I try to find some prompts to respond to with as those characters, it might help spark something and make me be like "oh yeah! I really want to write this now!" But obviously it wouldn't be good to force myself into writing it (though it's not to THAT point). I'm the type of writer who, typically, cannot work on more than one writing project at once (at least, not if both things are meant to be full length novels. I've been able to work on Storms of Magic while writing short little challenge responses before, so this shouldn't be that different).

I just wanted to make this post and see what other techniques people may have tried with their own long-term projects to help them get back into them after long periods of time of being away from them, especially if you're not someone who can typically work on more than one novel length project at once. This might be one of those things where what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the next, but are there any other things that have worked for you and I haven't already mentioned?

 

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Well, if it's an older project, I try to think about what might have inspired me to write it the first time.  A random thought?  Something I read?  Something I watched?  Even a song lyric.  Or a dream.  Then, if I can trace back what the inspiration was, I try to watch/read/listen to whatever it was, or try to remember what my interests were at the time I had that random thought or dream.  I try to put myself in the shoes of the younger me to get in touch with what drove me to create that piece in the first place.

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I'm doing the same with Sapphire Dreaming! It was a project I finished three years ago. Ultimately I found the original concept of my idea to be kind of bland, BUT when I went through the (disorganized) notes that I made during the process I rediscovered some old ideas I had that resparked my interest in it. I ended up changing my cast of two main characters to three, and revamping my villain. My third main knows a lot more about the world than the others, so writing from her POV is a little tough if I want to keep the secrets of the plot twists 😛

But, my process for diving back in looked a little something like this: 

  • Export Word Document to PDF (to keep from editing as I read) and reread the whole thing from start to finish
  • Make a few notes
  • Return to my original notes and compare
  • Start playing with my main cast again. This meant filling out character questionnaires*, doing character exercises, making them in various dress-up games (and the Sims), and then making character aesthetics for them. I also built a Pinterest board for the story, and saved anything and everything that reminded me of them. 
  • Look up plotting templates and advice. Get halfway through one of them and get frustrated. Make a list of everything each character knows about themselves, their world, and their past; then a list of everything they want to happen.
  • Start writing.

A bit chaotic, but it worked for me? Or it has so far. I'm only two chapters in. 

Your process seems a lot more streamlined, haha. I hope it works for you!! 😄 Good luck writing, and if you want to know anything more about my process above just ask. I'll try to explain better 😛

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18 hours ago, Mynoris said:

Well, if it's an older project, I try to think about what might have inspired me to write it the first time.  A random thought?  Something I read?  Something I watched?  Even a song lyric.  Or a dream.  Then, if I can trace back what the inspiration was, I try to watch/read/listen to whatever it was, or try to remember what my interests were at the time I had that random thought or dream.  I try to put myself in the shoes of the younger me to get in touch with what drove me to create that piece in the first place.

I mean, in this case it was a last minute response to one of the writing challenges here on the forum that I was literally writing up to the last minute...and the two main characters of Storms of Magic were actually secondary characters in that, but I was drawn to them more than I was the main character. So for the next challenge (I believe) I ended up writing something where the two secondary characters were the main characters, and then I ended up deciding to expand on their story. I don't think there was any one thing that inspired it, really.

 

18 hours ago, LivvyMoore said:

I'm doing the same with Sapphire Dreaming! It was a project I finished three years ago. Ultimately I found the original concept of my idea to be kind of bland, BUT when I went through the (disorganized) notes that I made during the process I rediscovered some old ideas I had that resparked my interest in it. I ended up changing my cast of two main characters to three, and revamping my villain. My third main knows a lot more about the world than the others, so writing from her POV is a little tough if I want to keep the secrets of the plot twists 😛

But, my process for diving back in looked a little something like this: 

  • Export Word Document to PDF (to keep from editing as I read) and reread the whole thing from start to finish
  • Make a few notes
  • Return to my original notes and compare
  • Start playing with my main cast again. This meant filling out character questionnaires*, doing character exercises, making them in various dress-up games (and the Sims), and then making character aesthetics for them. I also built a Pinterest board for the story, and saved anything and everything that reminded me of them. 
  • Look up plotting templates and advice. Get halfway through one of them and get frustrated. Make a list of everything each character knows about themselves, their world, and their past; then a list of everything they want to happen.
  • Start writing.

A bit chaotic, but it worked for me? Or it has so far. I'm only two chapters in. 

Your process seems a lot more streamlined, haha. I hope it works for you!! 😄 Good luck writing, and if you want to know anything more about my process above just ask. I'll try to explain better 😛

Hmm, the PDF thing is actually a good idea, although I do better with the physical print out. Unfortunately I don't have a printer (yet- hoping Santa will bring me one) so I can't print it out (again....I already printed it out last year using my mom's printer) right now, so I'd have to stick to Google docs or a PDF version I guess.

Character questionnaires never really work for me for some reason. Which is weird because I spent so many years role playing and filling out character apps, but when I try to do it for novel characters it never works. I do have a Pinterest board for my NaNo, and I think I kind of tried to do the same thing for SoM, but not to the same extent as my NaNo...so I'll have to try and do it for SoM at some point.

Hm, definitely need to do that second to last one, I think.

Haha, I think it's mainly streamlined because @Penguinball suggested it yesterday when I was talking to her in Discord...the original plan I had was probably a little less streamlined. XD

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