Saturday, March 01, 2008

The asterisk is my friend

When I'm writing and I can't think of the right word or correct phrase, I insert three asterisks and keep going:

She turned the corner and came face-to-face with the ***. Startled, she dropped her coffee cup. It shattered on the hardwood floor, splattering hot coffee and shards of fine china against her ankles.

Or, if I'm uncertain how to write a scene, I'll enclose notes about the scene within three asterisks:

Betty stood at the front window and watched her fiance approach the house. She had news for him, news too important to tell him over the phone, and she'd been waiting nearly an hour for his arrival.

***Betty tells Bob she totaled his car.***

After she told him about the accident, Betty collapsed into Bob's arms. Bob absentmindedly patted the back of his ex-fiancee's head, thinking about his car. His car? A completely restored 1957 Chevrolet Nomad is not a car. It's a treasure. Betty could be replaced, but his car? Never.

After I've completed a draft, I use the search function to find each occurrence of three consecutive asterisks. Then I insert the correct word or write the missing scene.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

Interesting idea. Do you have to do this often?

Michael Bracken said...

I do it frequently so as not to slow the creative process. The missing words usually come to me before I'm written too much more, so I go back and fill in those holes. The missing scenes are harder to deal with. Sometimes I have stories with all the key scenes completed but the transitional scenes are missing. I have to go back and write the transitional scenes so that they bridge from one key scene to another.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Hmmm...I think I must write slow or something becuase I have not ever had this happen. However, I don't produce anything near the numers you do so I can see where you would need to keep moving forward.

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Michael,

I used to use them but switched to brackets, either [] or [note to self] since brackets don't require me to hold down the shift key. :)