Friday, 27 November 2015

Milestones

What are milestones? That's what I'd like to talk about today.

Hi and happy Friday!

So, milestones ... markers along your path. The very word conjures images of those little stones they used to have on the shoulders of roads that would have a letter and a number carved into them to signify the next town and the distance to it.

I've seen a couple along the Hume Highway, between Albury and Melbourne. One of them I recall says M 35 meaning 35 kilometers to Melbourne - or perhaps it means miles since it's so old.

Occasionally, you can still see them peeking out of grass or roadside shrubbery; they're quaint, a hangover from a time when we didn't mass produce huge aluminum road signage as we do these days.

In a business sense, the term milestone, is used to represent key points along a project's timeline. For example, if I'm writing an article, with a starting point of A and a delivery date of D, my milestones along the way might be at B and C, where key things happen - it might be where I get access to certain information crucial to the article or it might be where the first draft of my work is ready for edit. It's a check of where you are in terms of meeting your deadline.

So it is, when writing a book, there are milestones. Sure we have deadlines for drafts, edits and so on, but in my world, milestones mean something a little bit different.

If I consider my story, from Chapter One, through to The End, as my project, the markers, or milestones are not exactly the chapters, but the essential key points that make up the story, leading up to the big, climactic milestone.

Consider the classic, boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl have falling out, boy and girl get back together, boy and girl get married and live happily ever after - these key points are milestones. They are the plot and summary of the story.

In between the milestones are the bits that create reality, the fabric that weaves the story together and links the milestones. I'm sure there's a technical term for these, but I call them my connectors. Without connectors, all you really have is a collection of things that happen - think about when you build a house - you start with the frame, cap it with the roof and put up the walls, add the trimmings and fittings and you have a home.

To me, a story that is all milestones and no connectors is just the frame of a house - the bones are there but there's no meat on them.

Alright, that's a very long winded way of me explaining where I'm currently at writing the third and final installment in the Broughton Hall trilogy.

I have the milestones in place: the start, the end, and all the milestones in between and I've been working steadily on the connectors all the way through, gradually building my story. But now, I'm in a spot where I'm connecting between a big milestone and the very biggest of them all and it's freakin' hard!

I thought it was just me. I thought that I was the only writer in the world who ever had problems writing connectors ... until recently. I read a book in which one of the characters was a mystery writer. This character mentioned how difficult it was keeping the story alive and interesting between milestones (the word milestone wasn't used  but I don't recall the word that was actually used).

Ah, what a revelation to me that was! Perhaps it's just me personalising my process, or the insular nature of writers in general, but I had no idea that this was a problem for all authors.

In any event, my book is coming along nicely. I know what is going to happen, I know how it will end and what my characters will go through to get there. What I haven't worked out is this final connector. It needs to put all my pawns in the right position for the big finale!

Given that this connector will be leading us into the biggest milestone in the book, it needs to be a good one. Well, I like to think they're all good, but this one has to be a doosie!

Nearly there, though. It will just take time and patience.

Meanwhile, I experienced milestones of a different nature last weekend. I ran the Colour Run with my sister in law. It was a nice easy five kilometers of fun with people along the way throwing coloured powder over us.

The Colour Run Melbourne - a great day out!


Why?

Well I don't know, but it was fun and it raised money for charity. My sister in law isn't a runner - it was the very first event she'd ever entered and she had a great time. I'm not sure I've convinced her to start training for the 2016 City2Surf yet, but who knows?

By the end of the run, we'd been showered in orange, blue, purple, pink, green, silver and gold powder. We glowed along with some 23,000 others, and Melbourne turned on a spectacular spring day for the occasion.

Until next week, set yourself a milestone, in other words a goal or target, then enjoy the connectors along the way!

No comments:

Post a Comment