The feelthy word is:
There's no shortage of good advice on plotting, characterization, pacing, punctuation...But strategy, if it's considered at all, has a vaguely feelthy, manipulative ring. As if great writing comes about through a magical combination of the right chemicals or drinks ingested, the right number of notches on one's bedpost, the right stands taken and the right enemies fought, the right things liked, the right things loathed--and if all of these things come together, making one a Writer...why, the books pop out and there we are: on the right talk show or loving the right Bunny at Hugh's mansion.
We talk about drafts and revisions, for sure. But not in terms of strategy but rather as some boring price we must pay. But my own eyes were opened when I read Coach Joe Gibbs' Game Plan for Life. The book includes samples of Gibbs' own game plans, breaking down the plays by feet to be accomplished. Or, as Al Pacino roared in Any Given Sunday: It's a battle of the inches!
Tonight, I sat down once again with the new book's first fifty pages before I pass them on to five beta readers. For the first time in my writing life, I composed a chart: what's accomplished in each chapter...appearance of back story...number of pages of dialog...appearance of clues...etc. Another chart will tackle only the first first five pages--all that some agents will read. A third will deal exclusively with the only chapter afflicted with Back Story Blues.
I feel feelthy doing this--and I'm here to say that I love it. Bring the battle of the inches on!